Federal shutdown? The idea is just DAFFY

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That stands for Delayed Action For Federal Yokels.

Before you get steamed, I’m trying to be ironic. As someone who has followed federal affairs for more than a quarter century, I agree with many members of Congress from both parties who think the federal workforce ought to be treated better than this.

In his remarks Friday, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney implied that agencies would scrounge for leftover and non-appropriated funds to keep soldiering on. In so doing, the lasso around potentially furloughed employees would shrink.

For example, it appears that National Parks wouldn’t close. That’s always the boogie man in these shutdown fights. Someone always says, “Aha! They’ll close the Washington Monument just to show the public how important feds are!” Although come to think of it, the Monument is closed anyhow because the elevator is broken.


But you get the idea. My experience is that for nearly all federal employees, the last thing they want to do is stick it to the public.

Mulvaney sounded angry over the fact that many excepted employees such as firefighters and law enforcement would have to work¬†sans¬†pay. That’s not exactly true. They’ll get paid, but it would be deferred until appropriations reappear. But deferral can present hardship, especially for lower-paid employees who might not have big “OMG” cash savings laying around.

Leviticus states unequivocally, “You shall not hold the payment of a worker overnight until the morning.” That’s the Almighty speaking. But it’s not a bad thing for Congress to try and live up to. Deferring someone’s pay is, well, sinful. It can also leave the government open to lawsuits for liquidated damages, as the 2013 shutdown did.

And I’m squarely in the middle when it comes to immigration. No sane person wants open borders so anyone can waltz on in. No sane person wants to deport everyone who’s illegally in the country. Clearly there’s a rational approach, only no Member seems to be able to get it into a bill. One side or the other is always clamoring for a “clean” bill on this or that. How about a “clean” budget and a “clean” immigration policy bill?

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals has to be resolved. It’s unclear how many people are affected. The Pew Research center pegs the number at around 800,000 who have received work permits.

And 800,000 is just about the number of federal employees who’d be furloughed in the shutdown.

We can do better.