Federal Employees News Digest

Shutdown avoided—narrowly


Congress at the close of last week passed a temporary continuing resolution (CR) to keep government agencies and federal employee salaries funded through Dec. 3—preventing a shutdown, just before the deadline.

Feds across Washington and the whole country—and the American public— breathed a collective sigh of relief.

Leading labor organizations for government workers also took solace in the good news, but they trashed the chaos and lack of concern shown by many lawmakers lead- ing up to the deal. Shutdowns and near- shutdowns of the federal government have become common 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 law- makers to do the work and pass longer-term funding bills “well ahead” of the next dead- line 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, high- lighting 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 shut- down 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.”

Government watchdog orgs issued the same mixture of grudging relief.

“While a shutdown would have had disastrous consequences for the country, the reliance on yet another continuing resolution indicates a recurring breakdown in the regular appropriations process that hurts the functioning of our government,” said Max Stier, president of the Partnership for Public Service (PPS). “When faced with the threat of a shutdown, federal agencies lose valuable time and resources doing contingency planning. The work carried out by our government is too important for this regular disruption and constant uncertainty.”

“We need a larger conversation about ending this dysfunctional cycle, and Congress should take legislative action so that we avoid the wasted resources and inefficiencies caused by the threat of shut- downs,” Stier continued. “Otherwise, this CR just kicks the can down the road. The longer we postpone taking action to address it, the bigger this issue will become.”

2021 Digital Almanac

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