Month-long shutdown shows no signs of ending
- By Adam Mazmanian
- Jan 22, 2019
Furloughed feds and those federal employees working without pay face a second payday with no check this week as the 31-day government shutdown continues without an end in sight.
Vice President Mike Pence and some Senate Republicans took to TV on Jan. 20, promoting a President Donald Trump’s plan to trade extensions on certain temporary protections for undocumented immigrants and those with protected status for $5.7 billion in funding for construction of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border .
Senate Republicans released their legislative package, dubbed the End the Shutdown and Secure the Border Act, late in the evening of Jan. 21. The measure will be offered as a substitute amendment to legislation already passed by House Democrats. However, it appears highly unlikely that the measure will attract the 60 votes it needs to advance.
Republican supporters of the bill said that working out the details of such a plan could take weeks, assuming a compromise is even possible. Many leading Democrats dismissed the effort out of hand.
Asked on Fox News Sunday why the administration was reluctant to open the government while a deal was worked out, Pence told host Chris Wallace, "Well, because -- I mean, you know, frankly, Chris, what the American people want us to do is to work on the priorities and the American people want us to secure the border."
On the same program, Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), the House majority whip, suggested that negotiations between Democrats and Trump could result in a compromise, but that a stopgap funding bill was a necessary condition of entering into talks.
"He has bills that he could sign and could open the government up right away. Let's not hold the American people, especially the federal workers, hostage to these negotiations, and hopefully, we will open with what he has put on the table," Clyburn said. "And let's go back and forth on this and see where we can find common ground."
Meanwhile, federal employees and contractors are caught in the crossfire.
On Meet the Press, Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) warned that feds on furlough and those working without pay are approaching a breaking point. He suggested a truce of opening the government at least briefly to issue paychecks to federal employees, and noted that legislation has already been signed into law guaranteeing back pay for federal employees on furlough.
"Come this Thursday, there's going to be a second pay period without a check," Warner said. "And then there's the beginning of the month, with all the bills coming due. The fact that we're going to go back and pay our federal employees back pay, let's at least pay them on Thursday, so they don't have to go through more angst."
Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.
Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, New York Press, Architect Magazine and other publications.
Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.