Government shutdown worst-case scenario realized: Salmonella outbreak

Government shutdown worst-case scenario realized: Salmonella outbreak
By: Tarini Parti and Helena Bottemiller Evich
October 8, 2013 07:58 PM EDT

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention building is pictured. | AP Photo

A multi-state Salmonella outbreak is exactly the scenario food safety advocates and lawmakers warned about when the federal government was forced to shutdown last week.

Now that nightmare has come true, though the federal agencies charged with arresting foodborne illnesses are scrambling to make due.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is operating with about one-third of its staff on the job during the shutdown, confirmed Tuesday that it has now brought back 30 furloughed employees in its foodborne division to help handle the outbreak, which has sickened 278 people in 18 states. Continue reading “Government shutdown worst-case scenario realized: Salmonella outbreak”

Agriculture Close To Avoiding Furloughs

Agriculture Close To Avoiding Furloughs

Illinois farmer Jacob Hermes uses a combine to harvest his winter wheat crop.
Illinois farmer Jacob Hermes uses a combine to harvest his winter wheat crop. Seth Perlman/AP

It’s looking more likely that the Agriculture Department will not have to furlough any employees this fiscal year.

Senate appropriators have approved the department’s request to shift funds within the Rural Development division to avoid furloughing about 4,800 employees because of sequestration, according to an aide. House lawmakers have not yet responded but a decision could come as early as today or Wednesday, Jennifer Hing, a spokeswoman for the majority on the Appropriations Committee, said by email.

Appropriators have until Thursday to approve or reject Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s April 23 request to use special limited budget flexibility — what’s known as interchange transfer authority — to cover salary shortfalls in Rural Development in fiscal 2013. Continue reading “Agriculture Close To Avoiding Furloughs”

The Furloughs That Never Came

The Furloughs That Never Came

 Education Secretary Arne Duncan recently said furloughs would be unnecessary at his department, after threatening them in February.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan recently said furloughs would be unnecessary at his department, after threatening them in February. Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

As recently as February, just weeks before sequestration was set to go into effect, nearly every Cabinet-level department had issued warnings of the need to furlough employees in fiscal 2013 due to the across-the-board cuts.

With the fiscal year more than halfway over, however, the number of agencies and department that will in fact require furloughs has dropped dramatically. While some departments, such as Labor and Treasury, have already begun or are moving forward with plans to furlough, the Agriculture, Education, Homeland Security, Justice and Transportation departments have reversed course.

In cancelling the unpaid leave, agencies have cited a variety of factors, from congressionally approved reprogramming of funds to simply finding the requisite savings elsewhere. Continue reading “The Furloughs That Never Came”