Kit4Combat Blog

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Amid government shutdown, the military becomes major front in political battle


American flags fly near the Washington Monument on Saturday. The U.S. government officially entered a partial shutdown early Saturday as Senate Democrats and a handful of Republicans blocked a bill to fund the government. The two parties failed to break a deadlock over immigration. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

The U.S. military faced a variety of consequences as a result of a federal government shutdown[1] Saturday, with U.S. troops working at least temporarily without pay, thousands of civilian employees furloughed and Republicans and Democrats alike saying that their opponents should do better for the troops.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said in a memo released by the Pentagon on Saturday that the U.S. military will continue to carry out operations across the world, but the shutdown already was prompting the cancellation or delay of training for reserve units and having other effects. Mattis pledged to do his best to mitigate disruptions and financial impact on military families.

“We will continue to execute daily operations around the world — ships and submarines will remain at sea, our aircraft will continue to fly and our warfighters will continue to pursue terrorists throughout the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia,” Mattis wrote. “While training for reservists must be curtailed, active forces will stay at their posts adapting their training to achieve the least negative impact on our readiness to fight.”

Mattis added: “Steady as she goes — hold the line. I know our Nation can count on you.”

The president says the military could be shut down if the government isn’t funded, but all active-duty personnel would stay on the job. (Meg Kelly/The Washington Post)

According to a Pentagon planning memo posted this week, all active duty uniformed personnel are to continue their duties, but they will not be paid until after the shutdown is resolved.

Col. John Thomas, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command, said the shutdown would not have a significant impact across the Middle East, where U.S. troops are conducting operations against militants in Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen and elsewhere, and where the U.S. military has a host of major bases.

President Trump accused the Democrats on Saturday morning in a tweet of “holding our Military hostage over their desire to have unchecked illegal immigration,” a reference to the dispute that is at the heart of the shutdown.

Democrats are holding our Military hostage over their desire to have unchecked illegal immigration. Can’t let that happen!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 20, 2018[2]

But the situation wasn’t that simple. While Trump, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and other Republicans blamed the Democrats, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) made an effort shortly after midnight to get the troops’ salaries and death benefits paid through the shutdown.

“I want to make sure that tonight we send a very clear signal that we don’t want one moment to pass with there being any uncertainty of any soldier anywhere in the world that they will be paid for the valiant work they do for our national security,” McCaskill said, calling for a resolution to pay the troops.

McConnell scuttled the effort, objecting to her motion.

Early this morning, @clairecmc tried to pass a bill to guarantee military pay and death benefits in the #TrumpShutdown.
Republican Leader Mitch McConnell: I object. WATCH: pic.twitter.com/n3a7RBaxzi[3][4][5]

— Senate Democrats (@SenateDems) January 20, 2018[6]

The pay situation threatened the financial well-being of service members, whose annual salaries begin at less than $30,000. As McCaskill noted, Congress has historically given the military back pay when a shutdown occurs or passed a bill that pays them during a work stoppage. U.S. troops are paid twice a month, and the next check is expected Feb. 1.

As Mattis predicted in public remarks Friday[7], military reservists across the country traveled in preparation for scheduled training this weekend, only to be sent home after the shutdown at midnight. While some live close to their units, it’s common for reservists to travel several hours to bases for drilling.

Bryan Salas, a Marine Corps veteran, said his son traveled from West Virginia on Friday to report to training this weekend at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., but returned hours later.

“He just went back to West Virginia about a half-hour ago,” Salas said around noon Saturday. “It’s just time wasted. He’s a student, but there are others who have jobs and their own businesses who planned for this training.”

A soldier assigned to the Army’s 450th Civil Affairs Battalion in Maryland said that his unit is preparing for a month-long exercise in March, and was planning to work on weapons qualifications this weekend in advance. The battalion includes numerous congressional staff members, he said.

“We have dozens of mission-planning tasks to complete since we just got our initial operations order for the exercise on Thursday,” said the soldier, speaking on condition of anonymity in order to be candid. “Not to mention all the equipment that needs to be prepared to move by rail. This puts us really far behind with only two days scheduled in February to prepare for a month-long training.”

While uniformed personnel are largely shielded from the shutdown’s effects, civilian employees whose jobs are not deemed critical to defense operations will be furloughed, according to the same Pentagon memo.

There are more than 740,000 Defense Department civilians. Mattis said Friday that about half of them would be furloughed. The Defense Department did not respond to repeated requests on Saturday to provide a precise number of furloughed employees.

Susanna Blume, who was a Pentagon official at the time of the last shutdown in 2013, said Pentagon leaders may not actually know that number, because decisions about which civilian employees will stay home are often delegated down the bureaucracy, and the roster of furloughed personnel can change day to day given work requirements.

Former officials said that the impact of the shutdown, especially if it goes on for an extended of period of time, may be felt most keenly in military readiness because of its effect on civilian or reserve personnel involved in maintenance and training.

“Disrupting those schedules often has a domino effect,” Blume said. Military intelligence activities, which often rely on civilian personnel, could also be affected, she said.

Mark Cancian, who was a senior budget official in 2013, suggested that if lawmakers resolve the impasse in a matter of days, the episode would be “disruptive but not catastrophic.” Even so, he said, the act of planning for a shutdown would cost taxpayers millions of dollars.

Already on Saturday, other effects were felt across the military. One particularly sensitive one is the temporary suspension of $100,000 payments promised to military families in the event their loved one dies so that they can travel and prepare funerals. Several nonprofits, including Fisher House and the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), offered to assist families that might be in need.

The Armed Forces Network, which carries television broadcasts of sporting events and other programming, was taken off air at midnight, leaving deployed U.S. troops without one common way to watch National Football League playoff games this weekend.

Defense Department outreach efforts also were curtailed, including aerial flyovers at sporting events, band performances and related travel, according to a memo by Dana W. White, Mattis’s assistant for public affairs.

While duties performed by uniformed personnel overseas are not immediately affected, the signal sent to troops in areas such as U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), where forces are deployed under hazardous conditions in Somalia, Niger and elsewhere, did not appear to be a welcome one.

“We hope Congress has our country’s best interest in mind,” said Col. Mark Cheadle, an AFRICOM spokesman, when asked about the shutdown.

Missy Ryan contributed to this report.

References

  1. ^ federal government shutdown (www.washingtonpost.com)
  2. ^ January 20, 2018 (twitter.com)
  3. ^ @clairecmc (twitter.com)
  4. ^ #TrumpShutdown (twitter.com)
  5. ^ pic.twitter.com/n3a7RBaxzi (t.co)
  6. ^ January 20, 2018 (twitter.com)
  7. ^ in public remarks Friday (www.washingtonpost.com)
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The Government Is Shutdown. 3 Things Military Families Want You To Know.

Adrianne Huls[1] , Contributor I write about navigating family and finances of military life. Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

Shutterstock

At midnight eastern standard time Friday, January 19, 2018, the government shut down. Yep, ultimately put out the “closed for business” sign. But what you may not know is military families, and many federal employees are affected in ways which the average person does not learn on the news.

  • Military Personnel still works but does not get paid. If war were to break out right now, the nation’s 1% would answer the call, say goodbye to their families, and go and defend our country. But their pay would not be guaranteed until the government is back in operating conditions. Right now banks such as USAA, Navy Federal and Marine Federal Credit Unions are sending military members registration reminders for a loan for advance pay. Bills will still be due, families will even need to get gas and groceries, and though it would beautiful to think most military members have three months pay savings, most do not. So they want to be paid. Need to be paid. This also includes deployed service members, yes even those people. And also the federal employees who can not check email or send information to communicate with families back home.
  • Activities for Military Children are Canceled. Federal employees run most of the base resources military families use.  Today youth sports aboard many installations were canceled. Kids were unable to have referees or use the gyms because the government buildings cannot be utilized. Even though these activities have been pre-payed for, they are now on pause until things are figured out. It may not seem like a huge impact, but the excitement let down of many kids who now have not too much gone on today should be a high gauge of how this impacts all levels.
  • Commissaries/Exchanges are Closed or Limited Hours. The family who does the food shopping typically for lower prices on base, this morning are finding themselves heading to Walmart or other grocery stores in their community. Places which support military families with resources are closed today or have limited hours, indefinitely because of the government shutdown.  True, there are other options in town, and many people will make ends meet, but the young family with dedicated income and knows what their average food bill is at the commissary, will now be searching for deals and stores where they can take care of their family from.

Many things are necessary which are not captured in the three points of this article. And it does not apply to the majority population of the United States. What should be recognized is other parts of the federal government are going to become a ripple effect over this shutdown depending on how long it lasts. I can hope the Senate is taking the whiteboard and making X’s and O’s and $’s work for the betterment of the country. Things like immigration, border walls, and tax laws are all part of the gambit of what is perhaps stalling the outcome of resolution. But today, as I see fellow military families posting and stating in realistic viewpoints of what is happening right now in their homes, it makes me very adamant about one thing: our government in this country was created to protect the average citizen. To uphold the principals of the founding forefathers.

References

  1. ^ Adrianne Huls (www.forbes.com)
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The Government Is Shutdown. 3 Things Military Families Want You To Know.

Adrianne Huls[1] , Contributor I write about navigating family and finances of military life. Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

Shutterstock

At midnight eastern standard time Friday, January 19, 2018, the government shut down. Yep, ultimately put out the “closed for business” sign. But what you may not know is military families, and many federal employees are affected in ways which the average person does not learn on the news.

  • Military Personnel still works but does not get paid. If war were to break out right now, the nation’s 1% would answer the call, say goodbye to their families, and go and defend our country. But their pay would not be guaranteed until the government is back in operating conditions. Right now banks such as USAA, Navy Federal and Marine Federal Credit Unions are sending military members registration reminders for a loan for advance pay. Bills will still be due, families will even need to get gas and groceries, and though it would beautiful to think most military members have three months pay savings, most do not. So they want to be paid. Need to be paid. This also includes deployed service members, yes even those people. And also the federal employees who can not check email or send information to communicate with families back home.
  • Activities for Military Children are Canceled. Federal employees run most of the base resources military families use.  Today youth sports aboard many installations were canceled. Kids were unable to have referees or use the gyms because the government buildings cannot be utilized. Even though these activities have been pre-payed for, they are now on pause until things are figured out. It may not seem like a huge impact, but the excitement let down of many kids who now have not too much gone on today should be a high gauge of how this impacts all levels.
  • Commissaries/Exchanges are Closed or Limited Hours. The family who does the food shopping typically for lower prices on base, this morning are finding themselves heading to Walmart or other grocery stores in their community. Places which support military families with resources are closed today or have limited hours, indefinitely because of the government shutdown.  True, there are other options in town, and many people will make ends meet, but the young family with dedicated income and knows what their average food bill is at the commissary, will now be searching for deals and stores where they can take care of their family from.

Many things are necessary which are not captured in the three points of this article. And it does not apply to the majority population of the United States. What should be recognized is other parts of the federal government are going to become a ripple effect over this shutdown depending on how long it lasts. I can hope the Senate is taking the whiteboard and making X’s and O’s and $’s work for the betterment of the country. Things like immigration, border walls, and tax laws are all part of the gambit of what is perhaps stalling the outcome of resolution. But today, as I see fellow military families posting and stating in realistic viewpoints of what is happening right now in their homes, it makes me very adamant about one thing: our government in this country was created to protect the average citizen. To uphold the principals of the founding forefathers.

References

  1. ^ Adrianne Huls (www.forbes.com)
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Travel Ban Caught Homeland Security by Surprise, Report Concludes

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WASHINGTON — The Department of Homeland Security was not prepared to enforce the first version of President Trump’s travel ban when it was announced a year ago and was largely unaware of its reach before it was signed, according to a long-delayed report[1] that was released on Friday.

The report also found that some customs agents who were stationed at foreign airports initially continued to tell airlines not to let some passengers board flights to the United States — despite court rulings halting the travel ban that had initially sought to stop foreigners from predominantly Muslim countries from entering.

The 112-page report was completed months ago. But its release had been delayed as John Roth, the department’s former inspector general, battled with Mr. Trump’s appointees over what he said were attempts to redact information that would show that the ban had caught top officials by surprise. Mr. Roth stepped down in November after saying he was troubled by the department’s handling of the report’s release.

At a Senate hearing on Tuesday, Kirstjen Nielsen, the Homeland Security secretary, denied that the report was delayed because it negatively portrayed how the administration handled the first travel ban.

Mr. Roth gave a public summary of the report’s finding to members of Congress last November. But the full report, even though it redacts key pieces of information, provides a more detailed view of the Trump administration’s attempts to craft the travel ban without significant input from the department that would be charged with enforcing it.

That includes John F. Kelly, the Homeland Security secretary at the time, who could not say for sure that he was shown a draft of the executive order before it was signed. Mr. Kelly, now the White House chief of staff, told investigators that he believed he saw draft copies of the ban and discussed it with a member of Mr. Trump’s presidential transition team, as well as with Ms. Nielsen.

Joseph B. Maher, the department’s acting general counsel, told investigators that he saw a draft of the order an hour before it was signed and had no role in helping to craft it. The report issued on Friday said Mr. Kelly and Mr. Maher appear to be the only people at the department who saw the travel ban before it was signed.

The draft order was never sent to Customs and Border Protection, the agency that had to enforce the ban at airports. The inspector general’s office found that Kevin K. McAleenan, the acting commissioner of the customs agency, received the most details about the order’s contents from congressional staffers who “were better informed.”

The report also concluded that although the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel reviewed the draft executive order, it failed to analyze the rights of legal permanent residents, who were left in limbo while customs officials scrambled to determine if they could re-enter the United States.

Homeland Security officials begin enforcing the travel ban even before they had a signed copy of the president’s executive order, the report found. And email correspondence that was provided to internal investigators portrayed the department’s leaders as frantically trying to understand the executive order, and which passengers were affected by it.

Guidance was later issued to customs officers in the field, who “reacted with shock and confusion,” the report found.

However, the inspector general’s investigators did not find examples of widespread abuses by customs officers, as portrayed on social media as travelers were detained or denied entry.

The exception was at foreign airports, where customs officers continued to tell airlines not to board some passengers bound for the United States even after courts had blocked the travel ban.

In a strenuously-worded response, the department said it does not believe the officers’ conduct violated the court orders. “Any implication or statement to the contrary is unfortunate and misleading,” the agency said in its reply to the report.

The inspector general’s office said it stood by its findings.

It said internal investigators also reviewed claims that passengers were pressured into signing forms to withdraw their applications to enter the United States, and that they were detained for an excessive amount of time.

Investigators said they could not substantiate the allegations of people being asked to withdraw their applications. They attributed the long detentions to officials’ inability to develop policies and procedures before the travel ban was issued, as well as confusion over how to enforce it after the court orders and constantly changing guidance from headquarters.

Investigators did note that customs officers did not “detect a single instance of terrorist threat” that was halted by the initial travel ban. Mr. Trump has twice revised the travel ban, the most recent version of which will be reviewed by the Supreme Court.

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page A16 of the New York edition with the headline: Homeland Security Officials Caught Off Guard by First Entry Ban, a Report Says. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe[2][3][4]

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References

  1. ^ report (www.oig.dhs.gov)
  2. ^ Order Reprints (www.nytreprints.com)
  3. ^ Today’s Paper (www.nytimes.com)
  4. ^ Subscribe (www.nytimes.com)
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Broncos engage in Mungadai Competition

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Capt. Anton Faustmann, commander, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, “Broncos,” 25th Infantry Division, assembles an M9 handgun during a Mungadai competition at East Range, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, on Jan. 11, 2018. The purpose Mungadai event is to create, trained, and ready professionals, prepared with operational and foundational knowledge, to take disciplined initiative while implementing and executing their commander’s intent. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Armando R. Limon, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division)
A Soldier assigned to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, “Broncos,” 25th Infantry Division, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, “Broncos,” 25th Infantry Division, assembles a weapon during a Mungadai competition at East Range, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, on Jan. 11, 2018. The purpose Mungadai event is to create, trained, and ready professionals, prepared with operational and foundational knowledge, to take disciplined initiative while implementing and executing their commander’s intent. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Armando R. Limon, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division)

First Sergeant Eugene Mirador, assigned to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, “Broncos,” 25th Infantry Division, assembles and M249 machine gun during a Mungadai competition at East Range, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, on Jan. 11, 2018. The purpose Mungadai event is to create, trained, and ready professionals, prepared with operational and foundational knowledge, to take disciplined initiative while implementing and executing their commander’s intent. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Armando R. Limon, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division)
Soldiers assigned to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, “Broncos,” 25th Infantry Division, carry weighted litters on their march from East Range back to F Quad, Schofield Barracks, during Mungadai. The purpose of Mungadai is to create, trained, and ready professionals, prepared with operational and foundational knowledge, to take disciplined initiative while implementing and executing their commander’s intent. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Armando R. Limon, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division)

Soldiers assigned to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, “Broncos,” 25th Infantry Division, carry a weighted litter on their march from East Range back to F Quad, Schofield Barracks, during Mungadai. The purpose of Mungadai is to create, trained, and ready professionals, prepared with operational and foundational knowledge, to take disciplined initiative while implementing and executing their commander’s intent. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Armando R. Limon, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division)
Capt. Jeffrey Hubler, commander, Company A, 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, takes a water break after completing the final road march event for Mungadai at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, Jan. 11, 2018. The purpose of Mungadai is to create, trained, and ready professionals, prepared with operational and foundational knowledge, to take disciplined initiative while implementing and executing their commander’s intent. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Armando R. Limon, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division)

First Sergeant Demian Vonzaluskowski (left), senior enlisted advisor, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, “Broncos,” 25th Infantry Division, celebrates with another Soldier after completing Mungadai at F Quad, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, Jan. 11, 2018. The purpose of Mungadai is to create, trained, and ready professionals, prepared with operational and foundational knowledge, to take disciplined initiative while implementing and executing their commander’s intent. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Armando R. Limon, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division)
Soldiers assigned to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, “Broncos,” 25th Infantry Division, arrive to F Quad, Schofield Barracks, after marching from East Range carrying a weighted litter during Mungadai, on Jan. 11, 2018. The purpose of Mungadai is to create, trained, and ready professionals, prepared with operational and foundational knowledge, to take disciplined initiative while implementing and executing their commander’s intent. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Armando R. Limon, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division)

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Tags: , , , , , , [1][2][3][4][5][6][7]

Category: News[8]

References

  1. ^ (www.hawaiiarmyweekly.com)
  2. ^ (www.hawaiiarmyweekly.com)
  3. ^ (www.hawaiiarmyweekly.com)
  4. ^ (www.hawaiiarmyweekly.com)
  5. ^ (www.hawaiiarmyweekly.com)
  6. ^ (www.hawaiiarmyweekly.com)
  7. ^ (www.hawaiiarmyweekly.com)
  8. ^ News (www.hawaiiarmyweekly.com)
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Homeland Security Violated Court Orders During Travel Ban, Inspector General Says

The Department of Homeland Security was “caught by surprise” by President Donald Trump’s first travel ban executive order, issued a week after he took office, and violated two court orders in preventing some travelers from boarding U.S.-bound flights, the department’s inspector general said in a report Friday.

Hundreds of immigration activists, clergy members and others participate in a protest against President Donald Trump's immigration policies in front of the federal building on Jan. 11, 2018 in New York City. (Credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Hundreds of immigration activists, clergy members and others participate in a protest against President Donald Trump’s immigration policies in front of the federal building on Jan. 11, 2018 in New York City. (Credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

The long-awaited report found that U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Homeland Security Department agency responsible for securing U.S. borders, was “aggressive in preventing affected travelers” from getting on flights, despite court orders that blocked the travel ban.

The department disputes the inspector general’s finding, saying in a response to the report that the department “did not countenance any violation of a court order” and that “[a]ny implication or statement to the contrary is unfortunate and misleading.”

According to the report, the department “was largely caught by surprise” when the travel ban was signed, with then Secretary John Kelly — now the White House chief of staff — having seen only two drafts in the days before the release.

Customs and Border Protection “had practically no advance notice” of the executive order, when it would become effective, and what it would contain, the inspector general said. The department also “had no opportunity to provide expert input” in the drafting of the ban, and “[n]o policies, procedures, and guidance to the field were developed.”

The ban went into effect while travelers were in the air bound for the U.S., requiring “real-time” policy improvising by Homeland Security, Justice and State departments.

The report cites the border agency’s failures to comply with specific orders by continuing to put affected travelers through secondary inspection.

“That policy led to a large number of travelers being processed and detained for additional, and specific periods of time,” according to the report, which found that Customs and Border Protection generally complied with court directives, “albeit with some delay and confusion.”

The inspector general was also unable to substantiate “allegations of unprofessional conduct” on the part of Customs and Border Protection officers, although the report says one reported incident remains under investigation.

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Kirstjen Nielsen, the Homeland Security Director at the Center of the Storm

OZY Newsmakers: Deep dives on the names you need to know[1].

By Tuesday, the latest storm to engulf the White House[2] — this one a Category 5 shitholestorm — had spiraled into a “He said, he said” between members of the U.S. Senate regarding President Donald Trump’s incendiary comments about Haiti and some African countries during an Oval Office meeting on immigration policy last week. On Tuesday we were getting a “She said,” and right in front of a Senate Judiciary Committee that included the two senators who had vouched for the president’s vulgarity. “I did not hear that word used,” Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen told members of the committee under oath, while confirming that Trump had used “tough language.”

But Nielsen was not yet out of the woods, or the fjords. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D–Vermont) pressed her on Trump’s wish for more Norwegian immigrants, asking her to confirm that Norway was a predominantly white country. “I actually do not know that, sir,” the high-ranking official with blonde hair and a Scandinavian surname replied. “But I imagine that is the case.”

Occupying the office formerly held by chief strategist Steve Bannon, Nielsen worked tirelessly to instill discipline …

Whatever your politics, it’s painful to watch. Here is a longstanding public servant, an experienced lawyer and the woman in charge of efforts to protect the American homeland, put in a position where she must attempt to plead agnosticism about the ethnic composition of Norway. For some, Nielsen was the recipient of some over-the-top Senatorial mansplaining[3]. For others, she was just the latest professional performing the moral ninjutsu required to serve a flawed president. For many Americans, however, this was their first introduction to Nielsen, just one month into her cabinet position, and it was not a pleasant one.

Gettyimages 905679710

Things had started out much better for Nielsen. “It’s hard to imagine a more qualified candidate for this critical position,” the president said when he announced her nomination in October, praising her “sterling reputation.” Many leaders on both sides of the aisle, including the Senate, which confirmed her 62–37, agreed. A national security and cyber expert, the Georgetown and Virginia Law School grad was an alum of the George W. Bush administration, where she served on the White House Homeland Security Council before leaving to work as a private-sector consultant helping companies develop responses to cyberattacks.

One of the, shall we say, less than sterling entries on Nielsen’s résumé was her role in the Bush administration’s response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Nielsen’s name comes up frequently in the lengthy Katrina postmortems compiled by bipartisan committees in the House and Senate, which criticize her team’s failure both to recognize the severity of the threat to New Orleans and respond adequately to its consequences. “She started off with the Super Bowl,” Matthew Broderick (no, not that one), head of the Homeland Security Operations Center during Katrina, told The Washington Post last year. “Usually with these things you get a few games to work your way up.”

Nielsen, 45, earned a front-row seat to another potential disaster last August when she accompanied her boss at homeland security, Gen. John Kelly, to the White House[4] to begin the thankless task of bringing order and stability to the then-swelling West Wing chaos. As deputy White House chief of staff, Nielsen was a gatekeeper for the gatekeeper, helping to filter the influx of information and people vying for the attention of the president. Occupying the office formerly held by chief strategist Steve Bannon, Nielsen worked tirelessly to instill discipline, eliminate distractions and even eject aides like Omarosa Manigault, the former Apprentice star, from meetings they did not belong in.

In her role as enforcer, there was little time for niceties. And many in the White House reportedly were taken aback by her brusque, no-nonsense approach to the job. But Nielsen retained the confidence and trust of Kelly, which she had earned after volunteering to be his “sherpa” during his confirmation as Trump’s first secretary of homeland security. That particular expedition required multiple late nights with the hard-working Nielsen coming down with such a bad cough that she cracked a rib. She wrapped a bandage around her torso and kept working, and Kelly was one of only two Trump cabinet secretaries sworn in on Inauguration Day.

Now as she takes over the reins of homeland security herself, Nielsen faces a much more daunting set of challenges. Atop an agency with a $40 billion discretionary budget and around 240,000 employees, she has a massive portfolio that includes everything from domestic counterterrorism to natural disaster response to immigration enforcement and border protection. So not only has Nielsen been thrown into the recent debate over deferred prosecution for immigrants brought to the U.S. as children and the border wall, but just a few days before her testimony in the Senate, she also had to handle the fallout from the false missile emergency warning issued in Hawaii[5].

Still, as her awkward Senate encounter made clear, the biggest disaster that Nielsen may have to handle on an ongoing basis is unquestionably man-made. We actually don’t know that for a fact. But we imagine that is the case.

References

  1. ^ need to know (www.ozy.com)
  2. ^ White House (www.ozy.com)
  3. ^ Senatorial mansplaining (www.washingtonexaminer.com)
  4. ^ White House (www.ozy.com)
  5. ^ Hawaii (www.ozy.com)
0

Trump misfires with claim that military would 'shut down' during government shutdown

President Trump said on Jan. 18 that if the government shuts down, “the worst thing is for our military,” and that “it’s up to the Democrats” to ensure it doesn’t happen. (The Washington Post)

“A government shutdown will be devastating to our military . . . something the Dems care very little about!”
— President Trump, in a tweet[1], Jan. 18

“If for any reason it shuts down, the worst thing is what happens to our military. We’re rebuilding our military. We’re making it — we’re bringing it to a level that it’s never been at. And the worst thing is for our military.”
— Trump, remarks to reporters at the Pentagon[2], Jan. 18

President Trump warns that the U.S. military would be hit hardest by a government shutdown. The president also tweeted[3] Jan. 12 that Democrats in Congress would be “shutting down the military” unless they strike a deal with Republicans that keeps the federal government funded past the end of January.

It’s hard to nail down what Trump is warning about, since he is not especially precise. The president claims at some points that a shutdown would set back one of his priorities — upgrading the military — and at other points that a shutdown means “shutting down the military” or “devastating” it.

The president, with his knack for repetition, has also said or tweeted that “Democrats want to stop paying our troops and government workers” (Jan. 12),  that Democrats will “take desperately needed money away from our military” (Jan. 14), that “our military gets hurt very badly” (Jan. 14), that they “want to take money away from our military” (Jan. 15) and that “the biggest loser will be our rapidly rebuilding military” (Jan. 16).

It sounds ominous in any case. But would the military really go AWOL during a shutdown?

The Facts

When the government runs out of money to fund itself, it goes into shutdown mode — offices close, droves of workers get furloughed and many services go offline. A federal statute, the Antideficiency Act, generally bars agencies from spending money that Congress and the president have not appropriated.

But the law has big exceptions, notably for military and intelligence operations, national security, and emergencies involving “the safety of human life or the protection of property.” Trump and the Defense Department would have broad authority to keep running whatever military operations they deemed necessary.

All active-duty military personnel would keep working in the event of a shutdown. They would be paid up to Feb. 1, and then continue on the job without getting paid until the shutdown ended or until Congress and the president agreed to cover their costs before it ended.

The last time the government shut down, in 2013, the military remained on the job and legislation to pay service members during the shutdown was signed by President Barack Obama. The same legislation, called the Pay Our Military Act, was used to bring back nearly 350,000 of the 800,000 civilian personnel who had been furloughed by the Defense Department. Because it was unable to pay death benefits to the families of soldiers killed in action, the Pentagon also contracted with a charity that footed those costs until the government could reimburse it.

Ultimately, it’s up to Trump to decide who stays on the job and who goes during a shutdown, said Stan Collender[4], an expert on the federal budget at Qorvis MSLGroup.

“Not only can the president decide who or what is an essential activity, the president can change his or her mind anytime,” Collender said. “In the past, every president has exempted the military, for obvious reasons.”

According to a 2015 shutdown contingency plan[5] from the Defense Department, the military’s war operations in Afghanistan and against the Islamic State and al-Qaeda would continue, “including preparation of forces for deployment into those conflicts.”

Contractors whose work was fully funded would stay on the job. Although the Defense Department would be barred from executing new contracts, it could keep doing so “where delay in contracting would create an imminent risk to the safety of human life or the protection of property, including endangering national security.”

The 2015 contingency plan called for 78 percent of the Pentagon’s civilian workforce[6] to be furloughed, or nearly 563,000 employees. Civilians who directly support the military would not be furloughed under the plan.

Asked to expand on Trump’s statements, a White House official pointed to comments from the Pentagon’s comptroller, David Norquist, who said, “I cannot emphasize too much how destructive a shutdown is.”

“We’ve talked before about the importance of maintenance on weapons systems and others, but if it’s not an excepted activity, there’ll be work stoppage on many of those maintenance functions,” Norquist said in December[7]. However, Trump or Pentagon officials could designate weapons maintenance as an “excepted activity” under the Antideficiency Act and keep those operations running during a shutdown.

Norquist went on to say that national security efforts would continue during a shutdown. The Pentagon’s top spokesperson, Dana White, separately said[8], “This department will never shut down.” And Trump himself, in a tweet posted days before the 2013 shutdown[9], said, “All essential services continue. Don’t believe lies.”

“Here’s the truth, the gov’t doesn’t shutdown” http://t.co/Ny6RxVYiP0[10] via @AP[11]. All essential services continue. Don’t believe lies.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 23, 2013[12]

Turning to Trump’s other warning — that a shutdown would endanger his plans to “rebuild” the military — it’s important to keep in mind that a shutdown does not foreclose pathways in Congress for appropriating more money for military upgrades or lifting what’s called a “sequester,” or automatic cuts, on defense spending that would be triggered by a shutdown.

In remarks to the Center for Strategic and International Studies on Jan. 18, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) said that “the clock on the sequester kicks in” if the government shuts down and that “our military is being used as a bargaining chip for completely unrelated items.”

But Ryan added that he was optimistic both parties could strike a deal on increased military spending, and many Democrats have expressed support for the idea.

“The good news is that Congress has made a bipartisan commitment to funding our national defense,” Ryan said. “Republicans and Democrats work together to send a strong national defense bill to the president’s desk, and right now we are actually engaged in good-faith negotiations to make sure that our budget, that our budget cap agreement reflects those commitments.”

The Pinocchio Test

With the threat of a government shutdown looming, Trump repeatedly has warned that the military could be shut down or devastated and that his plans to “rebuild” the armed forces would be thrown into question. In support of the president’s claims, the White House points to comments from the Pentagon’s comptroller, who said in December that a shutdown could stop maintenance on weapons systems.

A federal law generally bars agencies from continuing to work at taxpayer expense during a shutdown, but that law provides major exceptions for military and intelligence operations, national security and emergencies.

The Defense Department’s most recent contingency plan for a shutdown says all active-duty military personnel would stay on the job, as well as 22 percent of its civilian employees. Moreover, the president has broad authority to decide who stays on the job during a shutdown — an authority that extends to maintenance workers for military weapons systems. Trump himself tweeted in 2013 that the government continues to run “essential services” during a shutdown.

The president also claimed that a shutdown would set back efforts to upgrade the military’s resources and increase defense spending. But those efforts are bipartisan, as Ryan said, and are likely to survive a shutdown.

For sounding alarm bells about things that are not in the offing, Trump earns Three Pinocchios.

Three Pinocchios

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Share the Facts
2018-01-19 13:47:24 UTC

Washington Post

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Three Pinocchios
“A government shutdown will be devastating to our military.”
Donald Trump
https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/953987636057821184
on Twitter
Thursday, January 18, 2018
2018-01-18

References

  1. ^ in a tweet (twitter.com)
  2. ^ remarks to reporters at the Pentagon (www.whitehouse.gov)
  3. ^ tweeted (twitter.com)
  4. ^ Stan Collender (www.qorvis.com)
  5. ^ a 2015 shutdown contingency plan (www.defense.gov)
  6. ^ 78 percent of the Pentagon’s civilian workforce (www.washingtonpost.com)
  7. ^ Norquist said in December (www.usatoday.com)
  8. ^ separately said (www.washingtonexaminer.com)
  9. ^ a tweet posted days before the 2013 shutdown (twitter.com)
  10. ^ http://t.co/Ny6RxVYiP0 (t.co)
  11. ^ @AP (twitter.com)
  12. ^ September 23, 2013 (twitter.com)
  13. ^ About our rating scale (www.washingtonpost.com)
  14. ^ this form (washingtonpost.wufoo.com)
  15. ^ Trump Promise Tracker (www.washingtonpost.com)
  16. ^ weekly newsletter (wapo.st)
0

Trump misfires with claim that military would 'shut down' during government shutdown


(Ron Sachs/REX/Shutterstock)

“A government shutdown will be devastating to our military . . . something the Dems care very little about!”

— President Trump, in a tweet[1], Jan. 18

“If for any reason it shuts down, the worst thing is what happens to our military. We’re rebuilding our military. We’re making it — we’re bringing it to a level that it’s never been at. And the worst thing is for our military.”

— Trump, remarks to reporters at the Pentagon[2], Jan. 18

Trump warns that the U.S. military would be hit hardest by a government shutdown. The president also tweeted[3] Jan. 12 that Democrats in Congress would be “shutting down the military” unless they strike a deal with Republicans that keeps the federal government funded past the end of January.

It’s hard to nail down what Trump is warning about, since he is not especially precise. The president claims at some points that a shutdown would set back one of his priorities — upgrading the military — and at other points that a shutdown means “shutting down the military” or “devastating” it.

The president, with his knack for repetition, has also said or tweeted that “Democrats want to stop paying our troops and government workers” (Jan. 12),  that Democrats will “take desperately needed money away from our military” (Jan. 14), that “our military gets hurt very badly” (Jan. 14), that they “want to take money away from our military” (Jan. 15) and that “the biggest loser will be our rapidly rebuilding military” (Jan. 16).

It sounds ominous in any case. But would the military really go AWOL during a shutdown?

The Facts

When the government runs out of money to fund itself, it goes into shutdown mode — offices close, droves of workers get furloughed and many services go offline. A federal statute, the Antideficiency Act, generally bars agencies from spending money that Congress and the president have not appropriated.

But the law has big exceptions, notably for military and intelligence operations, national security, and emergencies involving “the safety of human life or the protection of property.” Trump and the Defense Department would have broad authority to keep running whatever military operations they deemed necessary.

All active-duty military personnel would keep working in the event of a shutdown. They would be paid up to Feb. 1, and then continue on the job without getting paid until the shutdown ended or until Congress and the president agreed to cover their costs before it ended.

The last time the government shut down, in 2013, the military remained on the job and legislation to pay service members during the shutdown was signed by President Barack Obama. The same legislation, called the Pay Our Military Act, was used to bring back nearly 350,000 of the 800,000 civilian personnel who had been furloughed by the Defense Department. Because it was unable to pay death benefits to the families of soldiers killed in action, the Pentagon also contracted with a charity that footed those costs until the government could reimburse it.

Ultimately, it’s up to Trump to decide who stays on the job and who goes during a shutdown, said Stan Collender[4], an expert on the federal budget at Qorvis MSLGroup.

“Not only can the president decide who or what is an essential activity, the president can change his or her mind anytime,” Collender said. “In the past, every president has exempted the military, for obvious reasons.”

According to a 2015 shutdown contingency plan[5] from the Defense Department, the military’s war operations in Afghanistan and against the Islamic State and al-Qaeda would continue, “including preparation of forces for deployment into those conflicts.”

Contractors whose work was fully funded would stay on the job. Although the Defense Department would be barred from executing new contracts, it could keep doing so “where delay in contracting would create an imminent risk to the safety of human life or the protection of property, including endangering national security.”

The 2015 contingency plan called for 78 percent of the Pentagon’s civilian workforce[6] to be furloughed, or nearly 563,000 employees. Civilians who directly support the military would not be furloughed under the plan.

Asked to expand on Trump’s statements, a White House official pointed to comments from the Pentagon’s comptroller, David Norquist, who said, “I cannot emphasize too much how destructive a shutdown is.”

“We’ve talked before about the importance of maintenance on weapons systems and others, but if it’s not an excepted activity, there’ll be work stoppage on many of those maintenance functions,” Norquist said in December[7]. However, Trump or Pentagon officials could designate weapons maintenance as an “excepted activity” under the Antideficiency Act and keep those operations running during a shutdown.

Norquist went on to say that national security efforts would continue during a shutdown. The Pentagon’s top spokesperson, Dana White, separately said[8], “This department will never shut down.” And Trump himself, in a tweet posted days before the 2013 shutdown[9], said, “All essential services continue. Don’t believe lies.”

“Here’s the truth, the gov’t doesn’t shutdown” http://t.co/Ny6RxVYiP0[10] via @AP[11]. All essential services continue. Don’t believe lies.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 23, 2013[12]

Turning to Trump’s other warning — that a shutdown would endanger his plans to “rebuild” the military — it’s important to keep in mind that a shutdown does not foreclose pathways in Congress for appropriating more money for military upgrades or lifting what’s called a “sequester,” or automatic cuts, on defense spending that would be triggered by a shutdown.

In remarks to the Center for Strategic and International Studies on Jan. 18, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) said that “the clock on the sequester kicks in” if the government shuts down and that “our military is being used as a bargaining chip for completely unrelated items.”

But Ryan added that he was optimistic both parties could strike a deal on increased military spending, and many Democrats have expressed support for the idea.

“The good news is that Congress has made a bipartisan commitment to funding our national defense,” Ryan said. “Republicans and Democrats work together to send a strong national defense bill to the president’s desk, and right now we are actually engaged in good-faith negotiations to make sure that our budget, that our budget cap agreement reflects those commitments.”

The Pinocchio Test

With the threat of a government shutdown looming, Trump repeatedly has warned that the military could be shut down or devastated and that his plans to “rebuild” the armed forces would be thrown into question. In support of the president’s claims, the White House points to comments from the Pentagon’s comptroller, who said in December that a shutdown could stop maintenance on weapons systems.

A federal law generally bars agencies from continuing to work at taxpayer expense during a shutdown, but that law provides major exceptions for military and intelligence operations, national security and emergencies.

The Defense Department’s most recent contingency plan for a shutdown says all active-duty military personnel would stay on the job, as well as 22 percent of its civilian employees. Moreover, the president has broad authority to decide who stays on the job during a shutdown — an authority that extends to maintenance workers for military weapons systems. Trump himself tweeted in 2013 that the government continues to run “essential services” during a shutdown.

The president also claimed that a shutdown would set back efforts to upgrade the military’s resources and increase defense spending. But those efforts are bipartisan, as Ryan said, and are likely to survive a shutdown.

For sounding alarm bells about things that are not in the offing, Trump earns Three Pinocchios.

Three Pinocchios

(About our rating scale[13])

Send us facts to check by filling out this form[14]

Keep tabs on Trump’s promises with our Trump Promise Tracker[15]

Sign up for The Fact Checker weekly newsletter[16]

Fact Checker User Poll

This is a non-scientific user poll. Results are not statistically valid and cannot be assumed to reflect the views of Washington Post users as a group or the general population.

References

  1. ^ in a tweet (twitter.com)
  2. ^ remarks to reporters at the Pentagon (www.whitehouse.gov)
  3. ^ tweeted (twitter.com)
  4. ^ Stan Collender (www.qorvis.com)
  5. ^ a 2015 shutdown contingency plan (www.defense.gov)
  6. ^ 78 percent of the Pentagon’s civilian workforce (www.washingtonpost.com)
  7. ^ Norquist said in December (www.usatoday.com)
  8. ^ separately said (www.washingtonexaminer.com)
  9. ^ a tweet posted days before the 2013 shutdown (twitter.com)
  10. ^ http://t.co/Ny6RxVYiP0 (t.co)
  11. ^ @AP (twitter.com)
  12. ^ September 23, 2013 (twitter.com)
  13. ^ About our rating scale (www.washingtonpost.com)
  14. ^ this form (washingtonpost.wufoo.com)
  15. ^ Trump Promise Tracker (www.washingtonpost.com)
  16. ^ weekly newsletter (wapo.st)