Even though Senate lawmakers are on the cusp of passing a bi-partisan continuing resolution to keep the government open to Nov. 17, agencies are telling their employees to prepare for a shutdown.
The departments of Commerce and Homeland Security are among the agencies sending emails to employees today.
“Prudent management requires the proper preparation for all contingencies, including the possibility that a lapse could occur. A lapse would mean that certain government activities would cease due to a lack of appropriated funding,” wrote Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo in an email to staff, obtained by Federal News Network. “To prepare for this possibility, we have updated our contingency plans for executing an orderly shutdown of activities that would be affected by a lapse in appropriations. During a lapse, designated, pre-notified employees of this agency would be temporarily furloughed. After the lapse ends, furloughed and excepted employees will receive retroactive pay for the furlough period as soon as possible.”
Homeland Security employees received an email from Randolph Alles, deputy undersecretary for management that was similar to the one from Commerce.
Alles added that DHS updated its contingency plan to address any mission areas that would be affected by a lapse in appropriations. Alles says employees will receive instructions if they are to be furloughed as well as if they have to perform their duties during the lapse.
The Labor Department and the Social Security Administration also are among the agencies that sent out emails to employees, according to posts on Reddit.
So far, more than 35 agencies have updated their contingency plans in September.
A source from another agency said they are waiting for further direction from the Office of Management and Budget.
An OMB spokesperson told Federal News Network, “It is up to House Republicans to do their jobs and prevent a needless government shutdown that would damage our economy, our communities, and our national security. In the meantime, prudent planning requires that the government plan for the possibility of a lapse in funding.”
When OMB does say shut it down, it should take three or four hours “to provide necessary notices and contact information, secure their files, complete time and attendance records, pay invoices for obligations incurred prior to the lapse and otherwise prepare to preserve their work. Agencies should use this time to provide written notices of the decision to furlough if notice has not already been provided to employees.”
Additionally, OMB says non-excepted employees cannot continue to work remotely.
House, Senate not in agreement
The Senate’s spending bill doesn’t match well with the House’s version, leaving doubt as to whether Congress can stave off a shutdown.
The Senate is working toward passage of a bipartisan measure that would fund the government until Nov. 17 as longer-term negotiations continue, while also providing $6 billion for Ukraine and $6 billion for U.S. disaster relief.
The House, meanwhile, has teed up votes on four of the dozen annual spending bills that fund various agencies in hopes that would cajole enough Republicans to support a House-crafted continuing resolution that temporarily funds the government and boosts security at the U.S. border with Mexico. It’s a longshot, but McCarthy predicted a deal.