Update On The Government Shutdown
Friday, October 11, 2013
Posted by: Glenda Whalen
Update on the Government Shutdown
The FBIAA understands the financial, familial, and professional toll that the current budget battles are placing on Agents and their families. We are fully committed to doing everything in our power to make sure that your voices continue to be heard. As these events unfold, we will keep you updated on our efforts and come to you with ideas about how you can help in this fight.
1) What has the FBIAA been doing about the shutdown?
The FBIAA has been an active voice on Capitol Hill and in the media regarding the consequences of both the shutdown and the persistent under-funding of the Bureau.
a) Capitol Hill Advocacy
The FBIAA has been in direct contact with House and Senate leadership on both sides of the aisle regarding the concerns of Agents. In particular, Voices from the Field has made a strong impact on policymakers, and the report has been cited by key legislators on the Floor of the Senate, in press conferences, and in national media coverage of the shutdown and budget battles. For example, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbra Mikulski (D-MD) stated on the floor of the Senate that:
"A few blocks from Social Security is the FBI field office. Those FBI agents are on the job--on the job--but they are being paid with IOUs. Do my colleagues know that because of what we have had to do with our budget they don't even have gas for the FBI cars? In a recent book called ‘Voices From The Field,’ the FBI agents have spoken out about what is happening to them; that when they get in their car to chase a bad guy or gal, they have to pay for their own gas. What kind of government is this, with all that pomp and strut, the ridicule of our Federal employees? Now this shutdown is humiliating our country and humiliating the people who work for our government.”
Additionally, a number of Agents have reached out to their representatives in Congress, and those efforts have helped the FBIAA message resonate more strongly. If, as it looks now, Congress temporarily funds the government while an effort is made to negotiate larger budget issues such as sequestration, this sort of outreach from members will become even more important.
The FBIAA continues to request that members share their experiences related to budget cuts and the shutdown with the FBIAA. We have been using these experiences to educate lawmakers, and your efforts are making a difference in these important debates.
The FBIAA has been active in working with national and regional media about the consequences of the shutdown and budget cuts on Agents and our work. The following are examples of our recent public advocacy:
"Local federal workers wondering when they’ll be paid” Canton Repository, October 11, 2013
"New report provides FBI Agents’ first-hand accounts on how funding shortages and budget cuts are impacting FBI operations: Report details impact of cuts on national security and public safety” FBI Agents Association Press Release, September 27, 2013
"New FBI Director James B. Comey stunned by impact of sequestration on agents in the field” The Washington Post, September 27, 2013
"Sequester impacts felt at FBI, report says” UPI, September 28, 2013
"How U.S. sequestration cuts impact FBI operations” (Video: Interview with Rey Tariche) Bloomberg, October 1, 2013
"FBI now tries to manage with shutdown after sequestration” The Washington Times, October 1, 2013
"FBI Agents talk about the harmful impact of budget cuts” Tickle the Wire, October 1, 2013
"Reward for FBI Agents Hurt in the Line of Duty During Government Shutdown: Immediate Furlough: FBI Agents Association Calls on Congress and The White House to Immediately Address Issue to Protect Agents and Their Families” FBI Agents Association Press Release, October 11, 2013
2) When will the Shutdown End?
After spending most of the week exchanging ultimatums and talking points, Congress and the President are now confronting the reality of the first missed paychecks and the looming expiration of the debt limit occurring. Each one of these events has devastating consequences for individuals, businesses, and the US economy; and momentum is building to fund the government and extend the debt limit, at least temporarily.
On Thursday night, after meeting with the President at the White House, House Republicans sent a proposal to the President that would fund the government until December 15th and lift the debt limit until November 22nd. Under the proposal, Congress and the President would use the time between now and November 22nd to negotiate over funding levels for 2014 and larger budget reform issues such as sequestration and tax reform.
On Friday, Senate Republicans met with the President to discuss their idea for ending the shutdown. Although many details remain to be seen, their idea is reported to be based on proposals discussed by Senator Susan Collins (R- ME). Under the Collins proposal, the government would be funded, and the debt limit raised, for up to three months while negotiations over FY2014 funding, sequestration, and budget reform negotiations take place. Her proposal is, according to reports, likely to include provisions repealing the Affordable Care Act’s medical device tax and make several other smaller changes to the controversial healthcare legislation.
Right now these proposals are still in their developmental stages, with political issues being discussed and language being drafted. However, the fact that neither the President, Republican leadership, nor Democratic leadership in Congress has rejected the proposals is a sign that we are on a path for at least a temporary reprieve from the shutdown. We are optimistic that a short-term solution can be found by early next week, and over the next 24-48 hours we expect that it will become much clearer if a deal can be reached and what such a deal may look like.
3) If a deal is reached, what does that mean for my pay?
If and when the shutdown ends, employees that were excepted during the shutdown will be able to receive the compensation they are owed, although right now it is not clear when those funds will be processed. For employees and Agents that were not excepted or were on leave without pay, back-pay will require additional legislative action. The House previously passed legislation providing for retroactive pay to federal government employees that have been furloughed as a result of the shutdown, but this legislation has not been passed by the Senate yet. However, we expect that any agreement to end the shutdown will also likely include retroactive pay legislation providing back-pay to employees that were furloughed during the shutdown.