The path to a potential government shutdown has become more uncertain with the surprise resignation announcement of House Speaker John Boehner on Sept. 25, but contractors aren’t taking any chances.
In a letter to congressional leaders, Professional Services Council president Stan Soloway asked Congress to set up reimbursement for government contractors in the event a shutdown occurs on Oct. 1.
Related: Read the letter
The letter, addressed to leaders of the House and Senate appropriations committees, said that while a continuing resolution does complicate matters for both contractors and the agencies that employ them, it is preferable to the fiscal chaos of a total shutdown.
“Government shutdowns amplify the negative consequences of a long-term CR but also create havoc by causing programs to shutter operations and disrupt workforce planning,” Soloway said in the letter. “The challenge of returning to normal operations following a shutdown must not be overlooked.”
In the event that a shutdown can’t be avoided, PSC asked Congress pass temporary appropriations that include language that authorizes payment to the contractor.
The reason for the specificity, the letter notes, is because a restrictive statute applied to contractors in the Pay our Military Act, or POMA, during the last government shutdown in 2013.
Congress passed and President Obama signed the Pay our Military Act, or POMA, to fund DoD, Coast Guard and some defense-related contractor services. Due to the narrow language of statute regarding contractors, DoD was only allowed to pay contracting employees, leaving the contractors to foot the bill for goods and services.
“We hope that it will not be necessary to enact another temporary appropriations act such as POMA for DoD or any federal agency,” the letter said. “However, should it be necessary, we strongly request that any such legislation provide for the “payment to the contractor” for the support provided (emphasis added).”
Sen. Ben Cardin, D.-Md., has already introduced the Federal Employee Fair Treatment Act of 2015, which will provide back pay for federal employees if a shutdown happens, but does not include compensation for contractors.