Government shutdown hit Tennessee's military drills

Government shutdown hit Tennessee's military drills

January 22nd, 2018 by Emmett Gienapp in Breaking News

Before the shutdown hit military headquarters across the country, the U.S. Department of Defense circulated a memo outlining the situation that instructed commanders to scale the ranks of working personnel down to essential employees only, furloughing almost everyone not on active duty.

"The Department will, of course, continue to prosecute the war in Afghanistan and on- going operations against Al-Qaida and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, including preparation of forces for deployment into those conflicts," the directive read.

In Tennessee, scores of employees and service members were furloughed on Saturday after appropriations spending lapsed for government functions, including about 1,400 civilians working in support roles and several hundred guardsmen who were scheduled to drill over the weekend.

Randy Harris, a retired major and the director of joint public affairs for the Tennessee Military Department, said the only service members allowed to train on Saturday and Sunday were personnel preparing for deployment. He said only about 700 of the 1,000 guardsmen were able to drill over the weekend, while the remaining number stayed home.

"Most of our people have been through this before. We went through this in 2013, as well," he said. "It's sad that it's gotten to this point, but the attitude's been good," he said. "[Afterward], it goes back to business as usual, and hopefully they will go back and make up the difference for the pay."

The Senate on Monday advanced a bill reopening federal agencies through Feb. 8 after Democrats relented and lifted their blockade against the legislation. The shutdown went into effect Saturday after Democrats derailed a Republican measure that would have kept government open until Feb. 16. Democrats wanted to pressure the GOP to cut a deal protecting young immigrants from deportation and boosting federal spending.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.