DECEMBER 21, 2018
People arrived at the Capitol Visitors Center as work in Congress continued before a Friday night funding deadline to avoid a partial government shutdown. – AP
WASHINGTON, D.C. – More than 380,000 federal employees could be furloughed in the potential partial government shutdown, while 420,000 work without pay, according to estimates from a top Democratic lawmaker on the Senate Appropriations Committee.
The furloughed employees would include 52,000 Internal Revenue Service staff, about 41,000 Commerce Department staff, around 28,800 Forest Service workers and 16,700 NASA workers.
The employees working without pay would include 41,000 law-enforcement and correctional officers, approximately 53,000 TSA employees and 54,000 Customs and Border Protection staff, said the office of Sen. Patrick Leahy, the Vermont Democrat who is vice chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
A partial government shutdown is set to begin this weekend unless U.S. lawmakers achieve a spending deal by midnight Friday. The Senate has passed a bill that would keep operations going for a few weeks, but it doesn’t include funding for President Donald Trump’s proposed wall at the Mexican border, and that has led to a standoff with Trump and his House allies. Trump has been meeting with Senate Republicans on Friday, with just hours to go before parts of the government are scheduled to shut down.
The White House’s Office of Management and Budget has issued guidance on how pay, leave and holidays will be handled for federal employees if the shutdown occurs, with the document noting that workers “furloughed on a holiday (e.g. December 25) will not be paid for the holiday unless authorized by subsequent legislation.”
The possible partial shutdown “comes with relatively low stakes in terms of real economic impact due to the relatively small number of federal agencies impacted,” said Height Capital Markets analysts in a note Friday. “However, a shutdown would drive significant headline risk and increase investor fears that government dysfunction will exacerbate the impact of trade disputes and other instability, as seen in the negative market response to Trump’s decision not to sign the Senate’s deal yesterday.”
If a shutdown is limited to a few days or a week, most Americans would just notice “the sheer spectacle of it,” budget expert Stan Collender recently told MarketWatch. But if lasts more than about 10 days, then government contractors “start laying off people,” said Collender, known for his Budget Guy blog. “And then the Starbucks across the street from a government building reduces its hours, because a major group of customers isn’t there anymore.”