The omnibus appropriations bill unveiled Monday includes a 1 percent pay increase to some federal workers and restores full pensions to some working age military retirees. The Postal Service would continue delivering mail six days a week under a provision in the bill. It also blocks the agency from closing small and rural post offices in fiscal 2014.
House and Senate appropriations leaders crafted a three day continuing resolution in case Congress fails to pass an omnibus appropriations bill before the current CR runs out Jan. 15. Though Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), who heads the Senate Appropriations Committee, said she's confident the omnibus bill will pass, the new CR (H.J. Res 106) will give more time to come to an agreement on appropriations.
"It's hard to believe that what has happened was not the result of economic crisis, not the result of a war, but was a self-inflicted wound by people who frankly swear to make sure that they will do everything to protect and defend the Constitution of this country and this country," said Former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.
With the debt-limit looming, Democrat and Republican leadership turned their attention away from the government shutdown and toward averting a financial crisis. House Republican leadership Thursday pushed a clean short-term increase that would raise the debt ceiling, the Washington Post reports, and it could go to vote late Thursday.
Many companies who cannot perform their federal contract work during the government shutdown will still have to pay their employees, which could be a challenge with their government revenue cut off. Contractors retain employees who can't work during the shutdown because once it ends, "you have to have the people available to start work again immediately," said Trey Hodgkins, a senior vice president at the trade association TechAmerica.
The continuing resolution passed 54-44 along party lines and also sets temporary funding through Nov. 15, rather than Dec. 15 as the House bill included. The House could vote on the bill as early as Saturday, but with the fiscal year ending Oct. 1, if the House decides to reattach the ACA provision, the Senate might not have time to vote before the government shuts down.
As federal workers prepare to be furloughed during a possible government shutdown, the prospects for congressional approval of a continuing resolution look increasingly imperiled. House Speaker John Boehner said Thursday that House Republicans will not accept a spending bill from the Senate stripped of a provision that defunds the Affordable Care Act, Roll Call reports.
Some information technology staff at the Veterans Affairs Department would continue to report to work in the event of a government shutdown, its acting chief information officer told reporters.
Just a week before a possible government shutdown, the Defense Department warned its civilian employees that furloughs could be in their future for those who aren't exempt and they might not get paid for the forced time off. Employees who aren't excepted or exempt will be barred from working during the shutdown, except to perform minimal activities that would be necessary to suspend agency operations, a Sept. 23 DoD memo (.pdf) says.
A new Pew survey shows the public is divided over who to blame if the government shuts down because Congress fails to pass a temporary spending bill. About 39 percent would blame Republicans and 36 percent would blame Democrats, the Sept. 23 survey says. About 17 percent would blame both sides.