Administration backs retroactive pay for feds in event of shutdown
The administration favors compensating federal employees retroactively in the event of a government shutdown, a senior official with the Office of Management and Budget said on Thursday.
"It's Congress' decision, but the administration supports reimbursement," said Jeff Zients, OMB deputy director for management and the official responsible for overseeing a shutdown, during a White House briefing with reporters.
Federal employees, including military service members, would not receive a paycheck during a shutdown. During past shutdowns, furloughed federal employees have been paid for their time, whether they were deemed essential or not. Those required to work during a shutdown (both military and civilian) would receive pay retroactively once funding is restored. But back pay for employees subject to furlough must be approved by Congress, which might be disinclined to recompense all employees retroactively given the current fiscal climate.
Zients said OMB Director Jack Lew would issue -- and post on its website -- official guidance Thursday afternoon to help agencies prepare for a potential government shutdown. OMB spoke with agency chiefs of staff and deputy secretaries Thursday morning and recommended that they talk with employees now about who will continue to work during a shutdown and who will go on furlough.
"I very much sympathize" with federal employees, Zients said. "It's a hard, hard situation for people to operate at this level of uncertainty.
Zients said employees who are working during the shutdown cannot reach out to furloughed workers. "If we were to have a shutdown, obviously the shorter the better." He said OMB did not yet have an estimate of how much this could cost the government. "We have not sized that," he said, adding that the costs of a shutdown to the economy would be far greater.
Zients also detailed a laundry list of government services and programs that would continue during a shutdown. Some examples include:
- Social Security checks to beneficiaries
- FAA's oversight of air traffic control
- U.S. Postal Service mail delivery
- Veterans' benefits
- Customs and border protection
- Federal prison and detention operations
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program