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Story highlights

Trump said the government "very well could" shut down

"We are here to support our country's military," Trump said

(CNN) —  

President Donald Trump told reporters at the Pentagon Thursday that the worst results of a possible government shutdown would be the impact on the US military, hoping to use the standing of the military to make it difficult for Democrats to vote to shut down the government.

Trump, before entering the Pentagon, said the government “very well could” shut down and that whether that happens is “up to the Democrats.”

“We are here to support our country’s military,” Trump said. “If the country shuts down, which very well could be, the budget should be handled a lot differently than it has been handled over the last long period of time, many years. But if for any reason it shuts down, the worst thing is what happens to our military.”

After touting efforts to rebuild the military, Trump said, “We need that now almost more than at in any time in the past.”

If the government were to shut down, though, the military is considered essential and would still report for duty, US officials have said.

A US defense official also told CNN the military gets paid on the 1st and 15th of every month. Funding runs through midnight Friday and they got paid on Monday, so it’s a non-issue unless a shutdown goes until February 1, assuming Congress will approve back pay.

Military personnel must report to work and still would be paid at the first pay period after the shutdown ends. In the 2013 shutdown, Congress passed a bill that paid military personnel.

The impact on the roughly 750,000 civilian personnel at the Department of Defense would be more dramatic.

Most would not come to work during a shutdown, and a Defense official told CNN that the number of civilian Defense personnel deemed essential would be “no more than 25% at the most.” In addition, contracts would be delayed, causing their overall cost to increase.

David Norquist, the Department of Defense comptroller, told reporters last month that he “cannot emphasize too much how destructive a shutdown is.”

“The disruption of this ripples through the organization and is very destructive,” Norquist said.

CNN’s Ryan Browne contributed reporting