How would your agency fare in a Christmas shutdown?

On Behalf of | Dec 17, 2018 | Employee Rights

Will Congress and the President come up with a funding plan that will keep the federal workforce operating through the end of the year? Naturally, it’s impossible to say. The deadline is Friday, and President Trump is reportedly digging in to his position that Congress must issue at least $5 billion in funding for his proposed border wall.

Here are the three most likely scenarios for keeping the government running, according to Federal Times:

  • Pass full appropriations for all agencies for FY 2019 (would not solve the border wall question)
  • Issue a continuing resolution for any agencies that currently have no FY 2019 funding (delays the decision until the new Congress)
  • Pass full FY 2019 appropriations for all agencies except the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the border wall. (This could result in a DHS-specific shutdown)

Staffers for Senator Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) of the Senate Appropriations Committee compiled information that indicates that the partial government shutdown would likely affect 420,000 federal employees — about 20 percent of the workforce.

Some federal workers would be required to work without pay

Essential personnel, whose work is deemed necessary for national security, public safety or other critical governmental operations, could be required to keep working even without a budget being passed. One of the agencies affected would be the Department of Homeland Security, which seems the least likely to be funded without money toward the border wall. As many as 88 percent of DHS workers would be asked to continue working in the absence of a budget.

In the past, these workers have been paid retroactively. In addition, Federal Employee Health Benefits, Group Life, Long-Term Care Insurance, the Federal Employees Retirement System, the Civil Service Retirement System and the Thrift Savings Plan are likely to continue to make payments without interruption.

Other federal workers would be furloughed

About 380,000 or 18 percent of the federal workforce, would be furloughed due to the lack of budget. The majority would be employees of the IRS or Department of Commerce, with others coming from NASA, the Forest Service, the National Park Service and the Department of Transportation. Again, it’s likely that these employees will ultimately be paid, but they could face major inconveniences if their pay is interrupted during the holidays.

Keep in mind that federal benefits, retirement and thrift savings plans are likely to continue to pay out.

The Office of Personnel Management’s guidance on furloughs provides additional information and answers to frequently asked questions.

Federal contractors also affected

Thousands of contractors working at federal agencies could see their pay and work interrupted, as well, although it depends on the policies of their employers.