On Thursday, September 1, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid warned that once again America was on the path to government shutdown as Congress once again closes on the end of the fiscal year without having passed the requisite appropriations bills to fund federal agencies. He stated that while the minority party will allow a short term Continuing Resolution to fund government agencies through December, Democrats will oppose any measure that funds government through to the next Congress. “We are not doing anything into next year and every Republican should be aware of that right now.”
What does that ultimatum mean? Uncertainty…for federal agencies, federal employees and the public.
For federal agencies, contracts that would otherwise be awarded are held up by the uncertainty of funding. Hiring to replace retiring federal employees, who are beginning to flood towards the exit given the disparate outcomes that will result from this Presidential election, also begins to bog down.
For federal employees, a choice presents itself…do we continue lives as normal, confident that Congress will ultimately fund government and that we won’t have a Christmas shutdown or do we once again begin to prepare for what could be an extended period of no paychecks with no guarantee that we will be reimbursed for the days missed because of the failure of Congress to perform its Constitutional duties?
At this point most seasoned federal employees are beginning to once again tighten their belts and bulk up their emergency funds for what could be a tough October or a very un-Merry holiday season. The debate of whether to take the kids to the beach one last time over the Labor Day holiday or try and pick up extra shifts at their second jobs has a clear answer. With President Obama once again cutting federal employee pay with a 1% “raise” and an indeterminate increase in health insurance premiums announcement only weeks away, feds are once again hunkering down in what has become an annual and unnecessary cycle.
Congress took a seven week August recess this year instead of doing the business the American people elected them to do. Seven weeks vacation at $174,000 a year. Add to that the extended July 4 recess when Speaker Ryan shut down the House of Representatives rather than vote on gun control amendments demanded by Democrats conducting a sit-in on the House floor.
So while Congress does nothing and manufactures a crisis of its own making, this federal employee will be picking up extra shifts at Home Depot this Labor Day weekend. Merry Christmas folks.