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US POLITICS

How would the government shutdown affect the military? “Horrible,” says Defence Department

Government agencies are preparing for a shutdown, with officials from the Defence Department saying it will be “horrible” for national security.

Update:
Government agencies are preparing for a shutdown, with officials from the Defence Department saying it will be "horrible" for national security.
JOSHUA ROBERTSREUTERS

All federal agencies have created contingency plans in case a government shutdown begins this weekend. For the Department of Defense, the prospect of a shutdown has been described as “horrible” by top officials at the Pentagon.

If the government shuts down, testing [of systems] will stop and acceptance by the government of equipment when it is finished and ready to be accepted [could] stop,” said William A. LaPlante, who serves as undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment.

The impact of a shutdown on military aid to Ukraine

LaPlante stressed the impact a shutdown could have on the US military assistance to Ukraine.

The Defence Department has scheduled a round of tests next week on new equipment that would be sent to Ukraine, but if the government shuts down, these tests are unlikely to happen unless a waiver is issued by Congress.

The likelihood that such a waiver will be accepted by Congress is slim, considering that a sizeable group within the Republican caucus opposes sending any aid to Ukraine. Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene said on Friday that she was “proud” that Republicans passed a Department of Defense appropriations bill that eliminated spending for Ukraine.

However, just one of the amendments proposed by the Georgia congresswoman relating to funding for Ukraine was approved by a voice vote, while several others failed to receive the support necessary. For GOP representatives in competitive districts, voting no on a funding package to Ukraine could give a Democratic challenger a better shot at unseating them in 2024.

If Speaker McCarthy were to carve out acceptions that would facilitate the sending of aid, he could put his leadership position at risk.

The Pentagon opposes funding the government through a continuing resolution

Defense officials have also voiced opposition to Congress funding the government through the passage of a continuing resolution that would keep spending levels the same as last year. For a Department that would like to see its budget grow, the Pentagon would be displeased with such a situation.

LaPlante explained that continuing resolutions have “negatively impacted [the] production of Guided Multiple Launch Rocket Systems and Patriot surface-to-air missile systems.” Both systems are being sent to Ukraine, meaning that even if a shutdown is averted, a continuing resolution would still disrupt the ability of the US military to send weapons to Ukraine.

The shutdown comes as reports of half a million Russian and Ukrainian casualties have been reported in the conflict. While the rights of self-determination of the Ukrainian people are unquestioned, the US military support to Ukraine has a horrifying human cost and has left open few prospects for peace. The lives that have been lost are not used by Republicans to justify cutting off aid, but these tragic losses should be kept in mind as federal officials across agencies engaged in the conflict determine what resources are necessary for peace. A de-escalation of the violence and a lasting peace should be the priority of the US government, and the federal budget should contain the resources necessary for that effort.