ROTC and The Government

Recent government shutdowns are not affecting the campus ROTC programs. The ROTC allows students to serve in the U.S. Army Reserve or Army National Guard at the same time. It provides students the opportunity for additional training and experience. On Thursday, January 17, 2019, at the College of Media & Communication building.

The government shutdown has continued for almost a month, breaking the record for the longest shutdown in American History.

Federal employees are not working or are working without pay.

Essential offices still are running, such as the case of 2013 when the military was working without pay. This time, the military is fully funded.

“The shutdown isn’t affecting military personnel,” George Hampton, recruiting operations officer of the Texas Tech Army ROTC program, said.

The budget for the military extends to the end of September this year, by an appropriations act.

“As a general rule, you violate the law by spending money that has not been appropriated, and you can only spend it for the purpose for which it is appropriated,” Richard Rosen, faculty director of the Tech School of Law, said. “There is a statute called the Anti-Deficiency Act that essentially criminalizes, to some extent, the use of appropriated funds and taking money from the Treasury without an appropriation by Congress.”

It connects to the Appropriation Clause in the Constitution. To take money from the Treasury, Congress needs to pass a statute, he said.

“As an exception to the Anti Deficiency Act, back in 1861 during the onset of the Civil war, Congress passed a statute called the Feed and Forage Act of 1861, which enables the military to make contracts for certain things essential to keep the military running,” Rosen said.

The military can contract for clothing, food, fuel, transportation and medical supplies, he said.

“They can obligate the government," he said. "They can’t pay anything until Congress passes the appropriation, but at least it gives them an end around the Anti-Deficiency Act and the Appropriations Clause.”

This protects them from being criminalized for using money to supply themselves. The military budget also was already covered, so they are not impacted by the shutdown.

“The military is covered in a separate bill,” Col. Dave Lewis, director of the Tech Strategic Studies graduate program, said. “That includes the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense.”

While active servicemen and women are covered, the citizen employees are not. Civilian employees include admin and engineers, as well as other non-service members who work for the military.

“The civilian workers have been furloughed,” Lewis said. “Meaning, they are told not to come to work until the shutdown is over.”

The Coast Guard, which was moved to Homeland Security after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, is operational but serving without pay, as Homeland Security is not included in the Department of Defense. Border officers, which are also a part of Homeland Security, are not being paid in the shutdown.

“Homeland Security is not in the DOD, so they went to the DOD and asked for help at the border,” Lewis said. “The DOD has been sending in aviation assistance and helicopters as well as concertina wire.”

Like the border officers, the Coast Guard also is getting assistance from the American Legion, a veteran’s association. They are raising money to help the Coast Guard members.

“Let’s face it, service members, people in the Coast Guard, Army, Marines, Airmen, a lot of them live paycheck to paycheck,” Rosen said. “I did when I was a junior officer. You didn’t have enough money to make ends meet so you lived paycheck to paycheck. It can create a real hardship for families.”

In the case of campus ROTC programs, which are headed by active duty members, they will continue to be funded. The military, regardless of pay, will continue operations.

“I don’t think I have ever been a part of a shutdown where the military stops working,” Rosen said. “They’re essential and continue to work. In my experience with respect to the shutdown, once the shutdown is over, they get retroactive pay.”

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