DAFB operations return to normal — for now

DOVER — Airmen and civilian employees at Dover Air Force Base were relieved to hear the three-day government shutdown was ended on Monday.

However, they remain on edge.

The deal reached by Senate Republican and Democrat leaders to reopen the government only ensures that the federal government will remain funded for three weeks until a Feb. 8 deadline for a longer budget agreement can be agreed upon.

“If you’re negotiating to buy a car, it is good enough to have agreed on the price,” Sen. Chris Coons said. “But, at some point, you have to look at the details. So, we have to look at the details right now.”

The Senate’s deal came three days after the government officially shut down Friday at midnight.

Kaleth O. Wright, Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, wrote on his Facebook page on Moneday taht he realizes the uncertainty that many of its members were facing before they were met with news of Monday’s reprieve.

“Here’s what I’ll ask for from you — patience,” he wrote to Airmen. “No one asked for this, no one wanted this and none of us is enjoying this. Every person you come into contact with from the time we shutdown until we’re fully back to normal is doing the best they can.

“The information doesn’t flow as fast as we’d like, the processes aren’t as smooth as we’d like, and there will probably be some confusion as we all work through who and what is excepted and how to best carry out the guidance our elective officials handed down.”

The 436th Airlift Wing at Dover Air Force Base released its expectations for what will happen at its facility during the government shutdown (just moments before Monday’s deal was reached). It read:

— Civilian personnel who are engaged in activities who are allowed to continue will continue in a normal duty status without pay until Congress makes appropriated funds available. Civilian employees not engaged in these activities will be furloughed.

— Functions essential to flight operations, national security and public safety will continue.

— All military personnel on active duty will continue in a normal duty status regardless of their affiliate with exempt or non-exempted activities. They will serve without pay until such time as Congress makes funds available.

DAFB didn’t expect medical appointments, the passenger terminal, the Army & Air Force exchange service store, the fitness center or the post office to be affected by the shutdown.

However, the base did note (before the agreement was reached) that the commissary would close starting Thursday and would remain closed until the furlough was lifted.

Heather Wilson, Secretary of Air Force, said she understands the uncertainty the Airmen were going through prior to Monday’s vote.

We are concerned about all of you who are affected by this action,” Secretary Wilson wrote. “We have asked Commanders and Supervisors to talk to every one of you directly to ensure you have all the information and support we can provide. We want to make this as painless as possible, consistent with the law.

“Thank you for your continued service and professionalism during this uncertain and challenging time.”

Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester said she believes there is room for everybody to find common ground when it comes to budget talks.

“A shutdown puts Delaware seniors, service members, federal workers and middle-class families at risk, while jeopardizing our economic future,” she acknowledged. “I believe that it’s our duty as lawmakers to work together on a fiscally responsible budget deal that fully funds domestic and military spending, while also addressing key national priorities like reauthorizing the Children’s Health Insurance Program, providing disaster relief and protecting our DREAMers.

“I call on my colleagues, on both sides of the aisle, to finalize a long-term budget deal that prioritizes the needs of the American people.”

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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