Despite President Donald Trump’s talk of a possible partial federal government shutdown at the end of next month, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman doesn’t think one will happen.
That would be good news to thousands of civil service employees at Wright-Patterson, many of whom were sent home on furlough for several days the last time a federal government shutdown hit in 2013.
Portman toured the National Air and Space Intelligence Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base on Monday, the first stop on a week-long tour of a dozen military and NASA sites in Ohio. He was scheduled to stop at Springfield Air National Guard Base later in the day. It was the senator’s second trek at Wright-Patterson since March when he toured the state’s largest single-site employer with U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and three other senators.
At a campaign-style rally in Phoenix last week, Trump broached the controversial issue of a government shutdown because Congress has not reached a deal to fund a border wall along much of the U.S. boundary with Mexico, one of Trump’s signature campaign vows.
“Government shutdowns are not good for Wright-Patterson Air Force Base,” said Portman, R-Ohio, noting the impact of furloughs. “I don’t think they’ll be a shutdown because it just doesn’t make sense.”
The government could face a partial shutdown Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year, unless new spending legislation is in place.
As he has in previous congressional sessions, Portman has introduced a bill to avert future shutdowns by guaranteeing continuing spending resolutions to keep agencies operating.
The bill would enact a temporary spending measure for appropriations bills not completed by an Oct. 1 deadline, the start of a new fiscal year. Funding would be reduced by 1 percent after 120 days, and another 1 percent for each additional 90 days without a budget.
“We’ve got to figure this out,” he said. “We’ve got to make sure we provide the necessary funding for the government and we’ve got to worry about the deficit and the debt, of course, but a shutdown doesn’t work well for us here at Wright-Patterson or really for our state.”
Portman said he didn’t expect Congress to launch a new round of military base closures in the next fiscal year, despite pleas from the Trump administration and the Pentagon to cut excess bases to save money.
“I don’t believe it’s going to happen this year, but I think it could happen in the next few years,” Portman said.
“We’ve just got to make sure we’ve got the right missions here and that we’re performing. If you’re performing well for the military, if you’re doing the right thing for the taxpayer using that taxpayer dollar more efficiently, you’re going to be OK.”
Wright-Patterson is “well-prepared” for another base closure round, he said.
The Miami Valley installation gained more than 1,100 jobs in the last round of base closures in 2005. The changes brought the 711th Human Performance Wing, including the Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine, and the Sensors Directorate to Wright-Patterson.