Administration provides shutdown details: What you can expect

Shutdown would affect more than 800,000 federal employees, including some White House staffers

Despite the efforts to avoid a government shutdown, it's looking all but certain that one is coming when funding expires on April 8, and the Obama administration is bracing for it with contingency plans.

Expect about 800,000 federal employees to be affected, said a senior administration official in a conference call for reporters April 6. That figure is based on what happened during the last government shutdown in the mid-1990s, the official said.

That rough estimate doesn’t account for changes since the previous shutdown though, such as the Veterans Affairs Department’s multi-year appropriations and the creation of the Homeland Security Department.

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The official said government activities that the shutdown would not affect fall into two broad categories – those that receive funding from other sources, such as user fees or multi-year appropriations, and activities that are necessary for the safety of life or protection of property, such as the military and law enforcement.

But almost everything else the government does would come to a halt during a shutdown, the official said, specifically naming the processing of tax refunds for paper-filed returns, the approval of applications for small-business loan guarantees, and new home loan guarantees. In addition, the National Parks and the Smithsonian Institute would close.

According to guidance released by the Office of Personnel Management April 5, federal agencies also wouldn’t have the authority to pay their employees during a shutdown regardless of whether they are working as “excepted” or furloughed as “non-excepted.”

“Excepted employees will receive pay for hours worked when the Congress passes and the president signs a new appropriation or continuing resolution,” the guidance states. “Congress will also determine whether non-excepted employees will receive pay for the furlough period.”

The senior administration official explained during the call that those in the military would keep working during a shutdown but would not receive their paychecks until Congress appropriates funds for the remainder of fiscal 2011.

The civilian workforce at the Defense Department would have the same consideration as others in the federal government, meaning that they will be notified about their status as an excepted or non-excepted employee. However, the official said he expects, “a significant number of DOD civilian employees would be furloughed if the government shuts down.”

Similar to federal agencies across-the-board, the White House would also experience “significantly lower staffing levels” if Congress fails to reach a long-term agreement on this year’s budget, the official added.

Budget talks at the White House that took place April 5 with congressional leadership reportedly didn’t result in any compromise, but Obama is pledging a hard-line going forward.

“We can’t have a my-way or the high-way approach to this problem because if we start applying that approach, where I’ve got to get 110 percent of everything I want or else I’m going to shut down the government, we’re not going to get anything done this year,” he said at a news conference April 5.

Obama said that he is no longer willing to fund agencies through short-term extensions, adding that there is “no excuse” for lawmakers not to get a fiscal 2011 budget passed and prevent the government from shutting down.

About the Author

Alyah Khan is a staff writer covering IT policy.

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Reader comments

Thu, Apr 7, 2011 Dennis Mobile, AL

Remember this when you vote.

Thu, Apr 7, 2011

Call and e-maail your Congress people!

Thu, Apr 7, 2011 Fellow Fed

Bottom line: 1)We're 14 Trillion in debt. 2) At 1.5% interest we'll have to pay $210 Billion to just pay interest 3) the current budget adds 1.6 Trillion to that debt 4)the interest rate will start climbing because of that lack of credit worthiness to perhaps 10% which means 5) we'll be spending $1.56 TRILLION every year just for interest. To keep the interest from escalating $1.6 Trillion needs to be cut this year from budget, and no one in DC is willing to do that.

Thu, Apr 7, 2011 Gip de Peoples aka Fed worker bee

The sins of our financial woes is on all of OUR backs! Forget about party affiliation. All bear responsibility for this situation. The Zealots of the Tea Party have some very good points that they are pressing. However, just like a cancer you have to be careful of the dose of chemotherapy, otherwise you kill the patient. Shutting down the government solves nothing and proves that politics and ideology alone are not the answer. We need leaders in the mold of Cincinnatus.

Thu, Apr 7, 2011

First send the presedent and his staff of crooks home no benifits and no retirements. He and they are banned from future government service. To our incumbent congress time to leave, in shame, same deal, like all their "helpers" they lose all government pensions health care, and will never get a dime of taxpayers money again. The newly elected are tasked to run elections and run the country until a new congress is seated and they can get down to busness. The ARMY should turn out the lights drop off the keys and go home, along with all Federal workers. This presedend and his congress broke their oath of office and proved their true selven and need to be de-funded and sent packing. The elite rich that payed for these elected fools needs to cope with the mess they made. We ask these young people to defend with their lives without pay??? With out the support needed at home for their families???? WTF

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