October 2, 2013
Although the federal government c;osed many services at midnight Monday, the U.S. Senate provided good news to active duty military personnel by approving a bill to ensure they are paid on time.
Those soldiers and sailors serving in the Nevada National Guard and at Naval Air Station Fallon, respectively, are affected locally by the ruling.
The reason for the government shutdown and emergency furloughs for nonessential civilian employees centers on the House Republicans not wanting to pass a budget that does not include a delay or defunding of Obamacare. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., however, said the Senate would not act on the House proposal, thus causing an impasse.
The Senate, however, accepted a Republican idea from the House of Representatives on Monday that would pay active duty military, some civilians and defense contractors. Prior to Senate approval on Monday, military servicemen and women were expected to be on duty, but their pay would have been delayed.
"In effect, there will be no interruption of the active duty members and the AGRs (Active Guard and Reserve)," said Maj. Dennis Fournier, public affairs officer with the Nevada National Guard.
Those facing furloughs until Congress can approve a Continuing Resolution or stop-gap funding bill are the same technicians who were furloughed by sequestration budget cuts this summer. Fournier said about 100 Guard soldiers in Carson City hold technician status and were not scheduled to report to work today. He also said 125 Air Guard personnel and 325 Guardsmen and women in southern Nevada are also technicians.
Although technicians must maintain membership in the National Guard, they are considered civilian employees in their full-time jobs.
"The AGRs will be in a caretaker status for the technicians," Fournier said.
According to the executive officer at NAS Fallon, about 80-85 civilian employees are affected by the shutdown. Cmdr. Gen Woodruff said NAS Fallon will continue to support an air wing, which is training at the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center this month.
"We'll continue airfield support while the air wing is in town for training," Woodruff said.
Most functions on base are exempted, said Woodruff, if they contribute to direct military readiness. He also cited that the Federal Fire Department, medical first-responders, security and medical personnel are directly linked to military readiness. Woodruff said employees working for the Navy Exchange and MWR (Morale, Welfare and Recreation) will not be furloughed because they are essential personnel. The commissary is also closed.
Woodruff said specific functions such as processing personnel transfers and welcoming new sailors on board the military installation would be disrupted. Woodruff said the base administration is currently reviewing other civilian functions on the base.
Most federal services in Churchill County have ceased because of the shutdown. Personnel from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (except fire and law enforcement) ares on emergency furloughs. The Stillwater Refuge is closed. The Bureau of Land Management is closed except for fire and law enforcement. Recreation ares such as Sand Mountain are closed. The administration from the Fallon Paiute Shoshone Tribe is reviewing its personnel status.