Congress: Temp debt limit deal

Congressional leaders reached a short-term deal in mid-October for raising the federal debt limit, heading off a potential economic catastrophe—and keeping federal employee and contractor paychecks flowing.


What most economic experts in government and industry had described as a catastrophe waiting to happen was avoided in mid-October, with Congress coming to a short-term deal on the federal government’s debt ceiling—passing a short-term guarantee of continuity in financial sustenance for the public and private sector, including federal pay.

The agreement will fund the government’s borrowing—just about all of it, in the trillions of dollars, having been taken on by the Trump, Obama and previous administrations of both parties—through Dec. 3. By that date, Washington watchers hope, the two parties in Congress will manage to put together a mutually acceptable longer-term deal. 

Employee organizations and unions telegraphed they are guardedly happy with the news—their hesitation arising because the next agreement will have to be negotiated at the same time as an end-of-year continuing resolution that will maintain agency spending. 

“This agreement avoids a catastrophic and unprecedented default caused by the U.S. running out of borrowing authority sometime around Oct. 18,” the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) said. “A default could have delayed federal employee paychecks and interrupted countless other federal spending programs.” 

“However, the short-term deal now pushes the default deadline into December, where it may coincide with the Dec. 3 expiration of the continuing resolution that has temporarily funded government agencies for the beginning of the 2022 fiscal year,” NTEU added, emphasizing labor’s concerns. 

NTEU, like other federal employee advocates and good government organizations, continues to note its concerns about the discord in Congress over this crucial matter—and to telegraph that it wants lawmakers to pass a longer-term solution for the debt limit, in behalf of federal employees and the public.

“It is still uncertain how Congress will come to a long-term solution to address the issue, with Republican leaders presently insisting that Democrats pass the proposal without the minority party’s support,” the National Association of Active and Retired Federal Employees (NARFE) noted, reflecting the current common concerns. “Without a debt limit suspension or increase on or around December 3, the federal government will risk being unable to meet all of its obligations.”

“NARFE is evaluating what this could mean for federal employees and retirees,” the group added, encouraging feds to check back at www.NARFE.org for updates.

 

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