President Trump Calls Pending Shutdown the ‘Worst Thing’ for Our Military

U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks to U.S. troops at the Naval Air Station Sigonella before returning to Washington D.C. at Sigonella Air Force Base in Sigonella, Sicily, Italy, May 27, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

President Trump warned Thursday that if the government shuts down tomorrow at midnight, it will harm the military.

“If for any reason it shuts down, the worst thing is what happens to our military,” he said before the steps of the Pentagon before a meeting with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

“Our military has to be the best in the world, by far.  And as you know, it’s been depleted over the last long period of time,” he said. “We’re going to make it much better and that’s what we’re doing.”

The nation is on the precipice of a government shutdown, as Congress struggles to reach agreement on a 2018 government spending bill or a stop-gap funding measure by Friday night that would keep the government running until a spending bill is passed.

Republicans need all GOP votes and at least nine Democratic votes in the Senate to pass a spending bill or a stop-gap measure, and they have been unwilling to do either unless there is a fix for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) — an Obama policy that Trump rescinded.

Congress has until March 5 to find a solution for DACA, but Democrats want to tie it to a spending bill since it is must-pass legislation. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) told reporters Wednesday, “We want to do everything we can to avoid a shutdown, but we Democrats believe if there is one it will fall on the Republicans’ backs, plain and simple.”

In the case of a government shutdown, troops will be required to report for duty and accrue pay. However, if a shutdown lasts longer than February 1, they will not receive their next paychecks. They will receive them once a spending measure is passed.  Most defense civilians will be furloughed, and not paid either until a spending measure is passed.

Trump also touted economic growth, suggesting that Democrats would like to harm that by shutting down the government.
“Our tax cuts and our tax reform has turned out to be far greater than anybody ever anticipated, and I’m sure the Democrats would like to blunt that by shutting down government,” he said.

The last time the government shut down was in 2013, for 16 days. Congress exempted troops from missing paychecks, but defense civilians were furloughed, but received back pay.

Trump is meeting with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to discuss the National Defense Strategy, which is being unveiled on Friday. The National Defense Strategy is the administration’s blueprint for defense strategy, and follows the release of the National Security Strategy by the White House last year.

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