WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama thanked the Defense Department workforce today in a video message and expressed his disappointment in Congress’ failure to approve a budget, resulting in a government shutdown.
“As president, and as your commander-in-chief, I’ve worked to make sure you have the strategy, the resources and the support you need to complete the missions our nation asks of you,” he said.
“And every time you’ve met your responsibilities and performed with extraordinary professionalism, skill and courage,” Obama said.
Unfortunately, the president said, Congress has not fulfilled its responsibility and failed to pass a budget.
“As a result, much of our government must now shut down until Congress funds it again,” Obama said.
Obama noted Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and other commanders would provide more information on how the shutdown will affect the DOD civilians and their families.
“Today, I want to speak directly to you about how what happens next,” he said. “Those of you in uniform will remain in your normal duty status. The threats to our national security have not changed, and we need you to be ready for any contingency.”
“Ongoing military operations, like our efforts in Afghanistan, will continue,” Obama said. “If you’re serving in harm’s way, we’re going to make sure you have what you need to succeed in your missions.”
The president said Congress has passed, and he would sign into law, legislation ensuring those personnel receive their paychecks on time.
“We’ll continue to work to address any impact this shut down has on you and your families,” Obama said.
“To all our DOD civilians, I know the days ahead could mean more uncertainty, including possible furloughs,” he said. “And I know this comes on top of the furloughs that many of you already endured this summer.”
Obama said DOD civilians and their families deserved “better than the dysfunction we’re seeing in Congress.”
“Your talents and dedication help keep our military the best in the world,” he said. “That’s why I’ll keep working to get Congress to re-open our government and get you back to work as soon as possible.”
Obama said the shutdown is occurring against the background of broader changes with the war in Iraq over and the war in Afghanistan slated to end next year.
“After more than a decade of unprecedented operations, we’re moving off a war footing,” he said.
“Yes, our military will be leaner, and as a nation, we face difficult budget choices going forward.”
“But here’s what I want you to know. I’m going to keep fighting to get rid of those across-the-board budget cuts – the sequester – which are hurting our military and our economy.”
We need a responsible approach, Obama said, that deals with our fiscal challenges and keeps our military and our economy strong.
“I’m going to make sure you stay the greatest military in the world – bar none,” he added. “That’s what I’m fighting for. That’s what you and your families deserve.”
The president thanked the Defense Department for their commitment to protecting the nation.
“On behalf of the American people, thank you for your service which keeps us free,” Obama said. “And thank you for your sacrifice which keeps our nation and our military the greatest force for freedom that the world has ever known.”