House passes funding bill, but shutdown still possible

 

The House of Representatives passed a stopgap budget measure after midnight on Sept. 23, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said it wouldn't get through the Senate, meaning a government shutdown is still possible. However, at least one expert is downplaying the impending threat of a shutdown.

To avoid a federal government shutdown, Congress must pass legislation by Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year. A measure that would provide $3.7 billion for disaster relief was attached to a stopgap funding measure to keep the government operational into mid-November. After one funding bill failed in the House Wednesday evening, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) spent Thursday convincing Republicans to support the measure with minor changes, the Washington Post reported.

However, without Senate passage, the bill won't avert a shutdown. At issue is funding for disaster relief.

John Palguta, vice president of the Partnership for Public Service, interviewed before the bill passed the House, downplayed the shutdown risk.

“If this was the first time this came up in the calendar year, I think people would be more" worried, he said.  “But I have to say that they’re almost becoming immune. It’s like, ‘here we go again.’ And I don’t think they’re hyperventilating, as much as I think they might have.”

Palguta said the odds are against a shutdown and that there will be a push to pass the overall legislation. Still, he said, there is that “22 percent possibility that it doesn’t happen.”

“Congress follows the polls, and they know their approval ratings are rock bottom,” he said. “They recognize that if there were a shutdown, it’s not going to help anybody. It surely doesn’t help the executive branch get its job done.”

As for whether federal employees should worry, Palguta had a straightforward answer.

“It’s not worth worrying about,” he said. “For one: There’s nothing you can do about it, if you’re a federal employee. It’s always a good philosophy to not worry about the things you can’t control anyway. And two: We’ve been through the drill; we know if it’s going to happen, you’ll get the heads-up – at the last moment. And because we’ve been through the shutdown before, we know basically how it will unfold. There will be plenty of time to worry about if it does happen.”

If the shutdown does in fact happen, Palguta said that federal employees could be hit where it hurts most: their pocketbooks.

“They’re not guaranteed to get paid,” he said. “In prior shutdowns, employees got back pay. But as it was discussed before the last possible shutdown on the appropriations reasons earlier this year, the mood in Congress, the budget situation, is brutal enough that there’s a possibility that employees would not receive back pay. Literally, it’s up to Congress to decide, and right now they’re not being particularly beneficent toward federal employees, so no guarantees.”

About the Authors

Camille Tuutti is a former FCW staff writer who covered federal oversight and the workforce.

Amber Corrin is a former staff writer for FCW and Defense Systems.

Reader Comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

What is your e-mail address?

My e-mail address is:

Do you have a password?

Forgot your password? Click here
close
SEARCH
 Top 100 Slideshow
contracts DB

Trending

  • Dive into our Contract Award database

    In an exclusive for WT Insider members, we are collecting all of the contract awards we cover into a database that you can sort by contractor, agency, value and other parameters. You can also download it into a spreadsheet. Read More

  • Is SBA MIA on contractor fraud? Nick Wakeman

    Editor Nick Wakeman explores the puzzle of why SBA has been so silent on the latest contractor fraud scandal when it has been so quick to act in other cases. Read More

Webcasts