Once again, our federal government is reaching the start of the new fiscal year and there is no indication that a federal budget will be passed before the start of the year. This situation is not new (it’s happened in every year since 1997, and all but three years since 1977.) Typically, Congress handles the lack of spending bills by passing continuing resolutions that funded the government until the paperwork side of the budget could be settled. However, the last few years have included heated battles about funding, and legitimate threats that the government would shut down due to a lack of continuing resolution or spending bills. Government shutdowns are not terribly unusual, with the last shutdown occurring in October 2013.
If our legislators fail to pass a spending bill by 1 October 2015, and it is nearly certain that they won’t, AND they do not pass a continuous resolution, then the government will shut down. What does this mean for military families? Unfortunately, it means that there is the possibility that military pay could be delayed. The Pay Our Military Act of 2013, which protected military pay during the last government shutdown, was only valid for that fiscal year and does not provide any protection for this year. The important thing to know is that if the federal government shuts down, and a new military pay protection act is not passed, then the 15 October 2015 military pay deposits could be delayed until the government reopens, and then perhaps a few days longer until the systems can be run.
When I have written about potential government shutdowns in the past, some readers have criticized me for being alarmist and creating unnecessary worries. I think that is unrealistic, because the threat is real. Just because it hasn’t happened recently doesn’t mean that military pay has never been delayed due to a government shutdown, and people need to be aware of the possibilities. As I often say, “Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.”
I will write more about this subject if it becomes more clear that a government shutdown is likely. In the meantime, start thinking about how you will plan your finances if your pay is delayed. And, please, ask questions! The more you know, the better you can handle a crazy situation.