House cancels plan for debt vote

By Bernie Becker, Peter Schroeder and Russell Berman – 10/15/13 07:10 PM ET

House Republicans canceled their plans Tuesday night to vote on a new plan to end the government shutdown and lift the debt ceiling after it became clear they didn’t have the votes for passage.

“We are going to be prepared tomorrow to make some decisions,” Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-Texas) told reporters after GOP leaders huddled in Speaker John Boehner’s office

“There will be no action. No votes. The rules committee will not meet,” he added.

Sessions said leadership would “take the night and make sure all of our members know what’s going on.”  Continue reading “House cancels plan for debt vote”

Lawmakers trying to reopen government piece by piece

Lawmakers trying to reopen government piece by piece

By and , Tuesday, October 8, 8:51 PM

If House Republicans could get their way, the National Institutes of Health would be open right now.

But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Transportation Safety Board would still be mostly shut down.

There would be funding for Head Start. But no money to produce federal unemployment reports.

The national parks would be open. But the national forests would not. Continue reading “Lawmakers trying to reopen government piece by piece”

Government powers down; Obama to address country

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Government powers down; Obama to address country

ANDREW TAYLOR | October 1, 2013 12:42 PM EST |

WASHINGTON — Congress plunged the nation into a partial government shutdown Tuesday, forcing some 800,000 federal workers off the job as a protracted dispute over President Barack Obama’s signature health care law reached the boiling point. Obama readied a midday statement to the nation while Democrats and Republicans at the Capitol blamed each other for the first shutdown in nearly two decades.

“Closed” signs and barricades sprang up early Tuesday at the Lincoln Memorial and other monuments, and the National Park Service was turning off 45 fountains around the capital city. National parks from Acadia in Maine to Denali in Alaska followed suit, as did many federal workplaces.

Agencies like NASA and the Environmental Protection Agency were virtually shuttered. Continue reading “Government powers down; Obama to address country”

Shutdown, Day One: Updates

Shutdown, Day One: Updates

Carolyn Kaster/AP

With hundreds of thousands of federal employees furloughed and installations across the country closing down, the first shutdown of government since 1996 is underway. Our colleagues at National Journal will be posting updates all day, so check back here often.

UPDATE: 11:54 a.m.: Barricades Don’t Stop Veterans From Seeing World War II Memorial

A group of World War II veterans from Mississippi knocked over the barricades at the WWII memorial on Tuesday morning, despite it being closed due to the government shutdown, Stars and Stripes reporter Leo Shane tweeted.

There were reports that Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., was on her way to the memorial. (By Matt Vasilogambros) Continue reading “Shutdown, Day One: Updates”

Many Federal Employees Are Facing Second Set of Furloughs in Six-Month Span

Many Federal Employees Are Facing Second Set of Furloughs in Six-Month Span

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The Defense Department will furlough roughly 400,000 civilian employees on Tuesday — nearly half of the governmentwide furloughs that will take effect in less than 24 hours if the government shuts down.

More than 800,000 federal civilian employees and as many as 1 million workers will go on temporary unpaid leave beginning Oct. 1 if Congress fails to reach an agreement on funding the government by midnight. Agencies posted their contingency plans online Friday and Monday, as the threat of a shutdown became more likely. Employees who are furloughed, or “non-excepted,” will receive official furlough notices on Tuesday if the government closes.

Federal agencies decide which employees to furlough and which to keep on the job during a government shutdown, though they are required to follow the law’s guidance on definitions. Excepted employees include workers “who are performing emergency work involving the safety of human life or the protection of property or performing certain other types of excepted work,” according to furlough guidance from the Office of Personnel Management. In other words, they aren’t furloughed. Employees who are not funded through annual appropriations are “exempt” from unpaid leave if the government shuts down.

How many employees an agency furloughs during a government shutdown varies, and tends to depend on mission. In some departments, like Veterans Affairs, 95 percent of the workforce stays on the job. At the Housing and Urban Development Department, however, 96 percent of the workforce will go on furlough.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Monday sent Defense personnel a message on the potential shutdown and the department’s preparations. “Your supervisor will provide more information, but I want you to know that furlough decisions are dictated solely by the law, which only permits us to direct civilians to work if they are required to continue supporting military operations or if they are required to protect DoD personnel and property,” Hagel wrote. “The furloughs are in no way a reflection of the importance of your work, the hard effort you put forth every day, or your dedicated service to our department and our nation.”

Still, the terms “essential” and “nonessential” employees, which are part of the vernacular and not the official government language related to shutdowns, have damaged the already suffering morale of the federal workforce. And for thousands of federal employees, this could be the second round of furloughs in less than a year. About 650,000 Defense civilians were forced to take six days of unpaid leave this summer because of sequestration.

The bulk of the workforce at other agencies, including HUD, the Internal Revenue Service and the Environmental Protection Agency, also will be hit with additional furloughs if the government shuts down. Those agencies shut down for a few days over the summer because of sequestration and most of their employees will not work in a government shutdown.

“This is a workforce which has endured three years of a pay freeze; there has been virtually no hiring, so workloads are increasing dramatically; many already have faced unpaid days because of sequestration; and now they face more unpaid furloughs because of a shutdown that does not need to happen,” National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen Kelley said. “This brinksmanship has got to stop, both for our country and for the dedicated workers who serve the public as federal employees.”

At least one agency will close completely if the government shuts down on Tuesday: the Merit Systems Protection Board. The processing of appeals and other pleadings will be suspended and hearings postponed. “No staff will be available in any MSPB office to answer inquiries during the entirety of a shutdown,” the agency said in a statement. “MSPB e-Appeal Online system also will not be available.” The board had been working through a flood of appeals from furloughs related to sequestration.

 

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