Shutdown averted, but feds criticize chaos
- By Nathan Abse
- Sep 30, 2021
The House and Senate were finally able—just hours from the deadline—to pass a temporary continuing resolution (CR) to keep government agencies including federal employee salaries funded through Dec. 3.
The public, and feds across Washington and the whole country breathed a collective sigh of relief. But while labor organizations representing them are also pleased by the good news, they trashed the chaos and lack of concern by lawmakers leading up to the deal.
Shutdowns and near-shutdowns of the federal government have become almost routine over the past decade—and feds and their unions are clearly fed up with it.
“Lapses of funding are a costly waste of taxpayer money,” Randy Erwin, president of the National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE) said. “Government shutdowns can also be devastating to hard-working federal employees who have had to go weeks without a paycheck in previous years.”
“Government shutdowns are harmful for federal workers, as well as the country as a whole,” he added. “We need to stop cutting these things so close. The American people deserve better than this.”
Erwin did say his union was “pleased” the shutdown was averted, but pressed lawmakers to do the work and pass longer-term funding bills “well ahead” of the next deadline in December.
“Congress did the right thing by passing legislation to keep the government funded through Dec. 3,” agreed American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) President Everett Kelley—but he added, “Bringing federal agencies to the brink of a shutdown was, once again, a terrible waste of resources and caused unnecessary worry and distraction.”
The National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) also registered its members’ relief that Congress had averted a shutdown—but then fired a shot over Capitol Hill, highlighting the embarrassment and real-life trouble caused by lawmakers repeatedly playing chicken with vital funding.
“It is important that Congress not bring government funding to the brink of shutdown again on Dec. 3,” the union said in a statement. “so NTEU will urge lawmakers to use these next nine weeks to finish work on year-long appropriation bills, which include funding increases for most NTEU-represented agencies, including the IRS.”