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21 Jan, 2018 01:31

War will go on despite US govt shutdown, Pence & Mattis reassure troops

War will go on despite US govt shutdown, Pence & Mattis reassure troops

Vice President Mike Pence has encouraged US troops to focus on their missions as the federal government shut shop after the Senate failed to agree on a new budget. The soldiers won't be paid, though, until lawmakers sort it out.

“We’ll get this thing figured out in Washington,” Pence said early Saturday as he greeted US servicemen during a refuelling stop at Shannon Airport in Ireland shortly after the government shut down. “Stay focused on your mission,” Pence told the soldiers.

“We have soldiers that are headed down range to Kuwait for six months in a critical theater to serve the country, and yet because of Democrats in the Senate, they have anxiety about their pay,” the US Vice President charged, blaming Senate Democrats for disrupting the government's work.

While the shutdown affects many federal agencies, programs that are deemed necessary to protect life or property will keep functioning, including those related to national security – which means the multitude of overseas missions American forces are engaged in.

Defense Secretary James Mattis wrote in a memo that “daily operations around the world – ships and submarines will remain at sea, our aircraft will continue to fly and our war fighters will continue to pursue terrorists throughout the Middle East, Africa and South Asia.” 

But although military personnel remain on the job, they won’t be paid unless Congress votes to compensate them. 

“It’s disappointing to every American that Democrats would shut down the government at a time when we have troops in harm’s way,” Pence went on. The last government shutdown lasted for more than two weeks in October 2013, leaving more than 800,000 federal workers furloughed.