Update on Government Shutdown
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Posted by: Traci Bannon
Update on Government Shutdown
The FBIAA has been in ongoing contact with key policymakers on Capitol Hill, and with key media, to make certain that members’ concerns about the impacts of the shutdown are being heard during these policy debates. On a daily basis we are conveying to policymakers and the media that Agents in the U.S. and around the world are continuing their work to protect this country without pay, and are furloughed if they take leave as a result of injury or sickness. We are hopeful that the shutdown can be ended soon. The FBIAA is committed to ensuring that Agents are properly compensated for the work you have done during the shutdown.
- The big question: When will the shutdown end and when will back-pay be issued?
Even though the events over the past 24 hours have moved in fits and starts, the House, Senate, and the President are closer to reaching an agreement than they have been at any point in this dispute. All parties do appear to want to end the shutdown and avoid the dire economic consequences associated with a debt default. For this reason, and taking into consideration that events are very fluid and subject to change, it is probable that an agreement to end the shutdown and extend the debt limit deal will be finalized by the end of this week. Furthermore, FBIAA has communicated with leadership in House and Senate, and both bodies are committed to legislative language providing retroactive pay to furloughed government employees in any agreement.
- Where we started on Tuesday Morning
Tuesday morning was marked by rare optimism. It appeared that Senate Majority Leader Reid (D-NV) and Minority Leader McConnell (R-KY) were on the verge of an agreement to fund the government through January 15th, extend the debt limit until February 7th, conclude budget negotiations for FY2014 by December 15th and make several relatively non-controversial changes to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Senators from both sides of the aisle appeared poised to accept this compromise, and Reid indicated that a Senate vote could occur today.
- A new plan from the House
Faced with the possibility of being forced to choose between the Senate plan and a possible debt default, House Republican leadership announced late Tuesday morning that the House would be considering its own legislation today. The House legislation would, like the Senate proposal, extend the debt ceiling until February 7th. However, the House proposal differs from the Senate proposal in a number of ways. For example, it would fund the government only through December 15th, it would not create a bicameral committee to negotiate FY2014 budget issues, it repeals health care subsidies for all Members of Congress and Congressional staff, and it limits the ability of the Secretary of Treasury to use "extraordinary measures” to avoid a debt default. Their proposal also includes a provision requiring that all furloughed federal employees be issued back-pay as soon as practicable.
- Reaction to House proposal
After Speaker Boehner announced his new plan of action, negotiations in the Senate were put on a 24-hour hold by Reid and McConnell. Reid indicated that the proposal would never be passed by the Senate, the White House stated that the President would be unable to support the House plan, and McConnell expressed his support for the House proposal (although a number of details in the proposal have changed since his endorsement),
The House originally planned on taking a vote on their proposal tonight, but controversy surrounding their proposal resulted in an indefinite postponement of the vote. Accordingly, it looks like the House and the Senate will be faced with the prospect of having to move very quickly tomorrow, with two likely scenarios.
1) If the House passes their legislation tomorrow, the Senate could pass the House legislation with no changes or amend the House legislation to make it consistent with the Senate proposal under consideration. The Senate could also start to take action on separate legislation. Because of procedural rules that slow Senate action, the first two options are the most likely paths to finalize legislation before the debt limit is exhausted.
2) If the House fails to pass legislation, the Senate will need to work quickly tomorrow to identify and trigger procedural maneuvers necessary for quick consideration of the Senate agreement that was put on hold. If this were to occur, it is likely that such legislation could not be enacted by both houses of Congress until Thursday at the earliest.
Tomorrow promises to be a very busy day in both the House and Senate. We will keep you updated.