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Gates: Shutdown Would Hit Young Troops Hardest

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, Photo: defense.gov

Using history as a guide, Defense Secretary Robert Gates told reporters in a tongue-in-cheek exchange, “a smart thing for government is always to pay the guys with the guns first.”

But, while all U.S. service members will eventually be paid if the government shuts down following the ongoing funding fracas on Capitol Hill, their paychecks might be a little smaller in the short term, Gates said while traveling in Iraq yesterday.

In response to reporters’ questions, Gates acknowledged that if Congress fails to pass a spending bill and the government shuts down for a week beginning Friday, service members’ mid-month paychecks will only include the pay earned for the first week of the month.

“Over time, they won’t lose anything,” the secretary told reporters after the visit. “But you all know as well as I do that a lot of these young troops live pretty much paycheck to paycheck, and when I start to think about the inconvenience that it’s going to cause these kids and a lot of their families, even half a paycheck delayed can be a problem for them.”

Service members are paid on the first and the 15th day of each month.

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