Department Of Defense makes sure troops can watch football despite shutdown

Deployed U.S. servicemen and women aren’t going without the National Football League during the government shutdown

On Saturday, reports surfaced that the Armed Forces Network would be unable to broadcast the league’s conference championship games on Sunday because it was considered one of many non-essential government programs to be shut down after Congress failed to reach a budget deal. The news upset many, and the push began to reverse the network’s closure.

AFN Director Col. Dave Honchul tweeted on Sunday morning that “we’ve been given limited services and have brought back two channels ― AFN News and AFN Sports.” 

While the network’s staff would normally be furloughed during the shutdown, the AFN’s television and radio broadcasts have been deemed “essential” services.

The Department of Defense determined that despite the shutdown, “the operational necessity of television and radio broadcasts constitutes them as essential activities,” Dana W. White, a Pentagon spokeswoman, said in a statement to The Washington Post. “We will continue to find solutions to support our troops at home and abroad. Congress must come to a resolution, support our troops and pass a budget soon.” 

A few companies offered to help find solutions for the deployed troops over the weekend. The NFL stepped in on Saturday to offer free NFL Game Pass streaming accounts to USO facilities worldwide. 

Related: See inside Sunday's AFC Championship game: 

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AFC Championship game: Patriots vs. Jaguars
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 21: New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady holds the football before the game. The New England Patriots host the Jacksonville Jaguars in an NFL AFC championship game at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., Jan. 21, 2018. (Photo by Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 21: Leonard Fournette #27 of the Jacksonville Jaguars walks onto the field before the AFC Championship Game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on January 21, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 21: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots hands the ball offsides to Dion Lewis #33 in the first quarter during the AFC Championship Game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Gillette Stadium on January 21, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 21: Brandin Cooks #14 of the New England Patriots is defended by Jalen Ramsey #20 and Telvin Smith #50 of the Jacksonville Jaguars in the first quarter during the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium on January 21, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Jan 21, 2018; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler (21) breaks up a pass intended for Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Marqise Lee (11) during the first quarter in the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 21: Marcedes Lewis #89 of the Jacksonville Jaguars celebrates after a touchdown in the first quarter during the AFC Championship Game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on January 21, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 21: Rob Gronkowski #87 of the New England Patriots is hit by Barry Church #42 of the Jacksonville Jaguars in the second quarter during the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium on January 21, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 21: Rob Gronkowski #87 of the New England Patriots walks off the field after an injury in the second quarter during the AFC Championship Game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Gillette Stadium on January 21, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 21: James White #28 of the New England Patriots carries the ball for a touchdown in the second quarter during the AFC Championship Game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Gillette Stadium on January 21, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jan 21, 2018; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) drops back to pass against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the second quarter in the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 21: Jacksonville Jaguars' Carey Grant stretches out while making a gain during the second quarter. The New England Patriots host the Jacksonville Jaguars in an NFL AFC championship game at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, MA on Jan. 21, 2018.
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 21: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots is tackled by Marcell Dareus #99 of the Jacksonville Jaguars in the second half during the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium on January 21, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 21: New England Patriots' Brandin Cooks can't come up with the catch defended by Jaguars' Jalen Ramsey, left, and A.J. Bouye during the third quarter. The New England Patriots host the Jacksonville Jaguars in an NFL AFC championship game at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, MA, on Jan. 21, 2018. (Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 21: Danny Amendola #80 of the New England Patriots throws the ball during the second half of the AFC Championship Game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Gillette Stadium on January 21, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 21: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots celebrates a touchdown with Danny Amendola #80 in the fourth quarter during the AFC Championship Game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Gillette Stadium on January 21, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 21: Brandon Bolden #38 of the New England Patriots reacts in the fourth quarter during the AFC Championship Game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Gillette Stadium on January 21, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
Jan 21, 2018; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola (80) catches a touchdown pass ahead of Jacksonville Jaguars free safety Tashaun Gipson (39) during the fourth quarter in the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 21: Blake Bortles #5 of the Jacksonville Jaguars reacts in the fourth quarter during the AFC Championship Game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on January 21, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Jan 21, 2018; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) celebrates with wide receiver Chris Hogan (15) after a touchdown by wide receiver Danny Amendola (80) during the fourth quarter against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
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White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted that she was “glad our brave men and women” in the armed services would be able to watch the games.

Sanders has consistently defended President Donald Trump’s barrage of criticism of NFL players who have protested racial injustices during the national anthem. Trump called on fans to boycott games at a September rally in Alabama, and continued to denounce the league for months after.

“We want our flag respected ― and we want our NATIONAL ANTHEM respected also!” Trump tweeted earlier this month. 

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.
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