This article was published at 8:30 PM.
The Spending Showdown in Washington has affects that are reaching Texoma. Uncertainty over the budget and military funding has leaders on Sheppard Air Force Base watching the clock, and for news out of the Pentagon.
House leaders passed a bill Thursday that would fund the military through the end of 2011 and the country for a week. The Senate however has not come to an agreement as of this writing.
On Sheppard, there is much still up in the air. "Obviously there is a lot of uncertainly on-base. People are wondering what is going to happen and how it is going to impact them," said Public Information Officer George Woodward.
The shutdown would impact different employees in different ways. Appropriated fund civilian employees (anyone who's function is funded by Congress) would be placed on furlough status – no work, no pay. There are roughly 1200 such employees on Sheppard. As for the Airmen (numbers around 8000), they would still report for duty, but would not be paid immediately. "All the Military Members will continue to work and will continue to go through training so there won't be any furlough for them, but they will be impacted because while they will continue to work and they will continue to go through training, they will not receive any pay until Congress appropriates funds," explained Woodward.
That has created quite a bit of worry on Base. We took those concerns to Congressman Mac Thornberry. He says he wants to send a message of support to Airmen. "I'd tell them number one they will be paid even in the event of government shutdown. They will be compensated for the work they do. The issue is whether they get their pay checks on time or not," he said.
Many are worried that Airmen that live paycheck-to-paycheck will be affected drastically. Woodward says there is help available should a family run into a tough spot. "We do have some agencies on base that stand ready to help, the Airman and Family Readiness Center has a number of programs to help our Military and Civilian people that may be affected. We have a food pantry here, a number of things that are designed to help in these types of situations," he said.
Still the warriors in Texoma have a clear message for those fighting in Washington. "The Air Force encourages Congress to act quickly and appropriate funds so we can continue our mission. The truth is, this is very disruptive to our mission," said Woodward.
Click here if you would like to view our complete interview with Congressman Thornberry.