First Sequestration, Now This

Congress on Monday failed to reach agreement on a spending bill to fund the federal government in the new fiscal year that begins on Tuesday, forcing the first partial shutdown of the federal government in 17 years. “This is an unnecessary and unwelcome distraction from our mission of defending the nation,” wrote Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who’s currently in South Korea, in a message to Defense Department personnel on the eve of the shutdown. While military personnel around the world will continue to serve in a normal duty status, Hagel said “a large number of civilian employees and contractors” would likely face a temporary furlough if Congress does not resolve the situation quickly. He acknowledged in his Sept. 30 message that DOD personnel and families “have been through a lot recently” in dealing with the stresses and uncertainties of budget sequestration, and now the shutdown. “But I also know that the Department of Defense is a strong and resilient institution. We are going into this challenge together and we will come out of it together,” he wrote. (See also President Obama’s video.)