NSA head: Shutdown is national security threat

A top intelligence official warned Congress on Thursday that shuttering the government would hurt the nation’s security.

During a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, Sen. Angus KingAngus Stanley KingOvernight Health Care — Sponsored by PCMA — Trump hits federally funded clinics with new abortion restrictions Dem senators ask drug companies to list prices in ads Overnight Health Care: Trump unveils plan to lower drug prices | Dem questions drug company's payment to Trump attorney | House panel unveils opioid proposals MORE (I-Maine) asked National Security Agency (NSA) Director Adm. Michael Rogers if a government shutdown would “compromise national security.”

“Yes,” Rogers responded.

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The possibility of a shutdown was weighing heavily on NSA employees “who could easily get jobs on the outside and earn significantly more amounts of money,” he told the Senate panel.

Rogers warned that work stoppages for government personnel would hurt the NSA’s ability to attract and retain employees.

“I get this [question] every time, literally, when I talk to our workforce around the world: ‘Sir, is this going to happen again? Am I going to be told I can’t come to work? I may not be paid or am I going to be put on furloughs?’ ”

Congress is facing the possibility of a second government shutdown in three years if it can’t pass a funding bill by the end of the month.

Some Republicans have vowed to oppose any funding bill that includes money for Planned Parenthood, but they ran into a stumbling block on Thursday when Senate lawmakers failed to advance legislation to defund the organization. That vote sets the stage for action on a “clean” short-term funding bill next week. 

Democrats have strongly criticized Republicans’ tactics during the funding fight. 

At the hearing, King, who caucuses with Democrats, suggested that the current state of “political dysfunction” is one of the gravest threats to national security, citing a study that ranked it second only to Islamic extremism.

“We have met the enemy and he is us,” he said, quoting the comic strip “Pogo.”