The current continuing resolution is set to expire at the end of the day on December 8, so talk of a government shutdown is starting back up.
Earlier this week, President Trump and congressional leaders had a meeting scheduled. Then, the president tweeted, “I don’t see a deal”, so the House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) canceled their meeting at the White House.
Congressional aides say the most likely scenario is a 2-week extension in December that would give lawmakers more time to negotiate.
“We hope that whatever final deal is reached, it restores agencies’ funding to levels that provide for smooth and adequate operations for our 326 ports of entry, the appropriate policing of the financial and banking system, an efficient and effective tax collection process, strong enforcement of environmental laws, and so many other vital government services,” National Treasury Employees Union President Tony Reardon said.
If, however, a deal does not happen and the government does shutdown, keep the following in mind.
Pay During a Shutdown
Those furloughed during the shutdown in 2013 did receive back pay for the 16 days the government remained closed. Congress included a provision in its October 13 spending bill that authorized furloughed employees to receive “their regular standard rate of compensation for the period of such lapse in appropriations, as soon as practicable”.
Several congressmen have already said they want to make sure federal employees get paid in the event of a shutdown.
Reps. Don Beyer (D-VA) and Rob Wittman (R-VA) introduced the Federal Employee Retroactive Pay Fairness Act, which guarantees federal employees receive back pay in the event of a shutdown.
“Federal employees shouldn’t suffer because Congress refuses to end its govern-by-crisis mentality,” Wittman said. “Preparing the retroactive pay legislation sends a signal to our federal workers that they won’t be forgotten in the unfortunate event of a shutdown. While this legislation minimizes the impacts of funding uncertainty, my focus remains on returning Congress to a regular schedule of budgeting and passing appropriations bills.”
Those who perform “emergency work involving the safety of human life or the protection of property will be “excepted” from shutdown furloughs.
Federal employees whose salaries are funded through annual appropriations will be asked not to work.
Most political appointees aren’t subject to furloughs because they aren’t a part of the Title 5 leave system, so they will continue work during a shutdown.
Generally, agency legal counsels/sr. managers determine who serves in “excepted” or “non-excepted” functions. Each agency also determines when and how it will notify employees of their status.
“Excepted” employees who work during a government shutdown generally get paid after Congress passes and the president signs another continuing resolution or appropriations package.
Health and Other Benefits During a Shutdown
Federal employees will continue to receive health benefits even if the agency doesn’t make premium payments on time.
“Since the employee will be in a non-pay status, the enrollee share of the [Federal Employee Health Benefits Program] premium will accumulate and be withheld from pay upon return to pay status,” OPM wrote.
Furloughed employees enrolled in Federal Employee Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) program can continue to receive coverage for 12 consecutive months without cost to the worker or agency.
Coverage continues for enrollees in Federal Long-Term Care Insurance Program if premiums get paid, but automatic payroll deductions stop for furloughed employees.
Federal retirees under both the Federal Employee Retirement and Civil Service Retirement Systems will continue to receive scheduled annuity payments.
Thrift Savings Plan operates as normal during a government shutdown. Furloughed employees enrolled in the TSP can’t contribute while in a non-pay status. However, participants can request a financial hardship withdrawal; certain conditions apply.
Government shutdowns are costly and unproductive. During the last shutdown in 2013, federal employees collectively missed 6.6 million days of work, according to the Office of Management and Budget. It cost the government roughly $2.5 billion in lost productivity.
The Department of Defense lost 1.6 million days, Department of Treasury—985,000, Department of Agriculture—737,000, and the Interior Department—646,000.