Shutdown Roundup: Your Tax Refund May Be Delayed Due to Absences, the Coast Guard Chief's Video and More
The shutdown is in its second month and more effects are being felt.
The Senate is set to take up two bills later this week that could end the shutdown now in its second month, but it is unlikely that a deal will be reached. Agencies are bringing back more furloughed employees to work without pay, though a plan to pay excepted feds is gaining some momentum on Capitol Hill.
At GovExec, we can't report on all aspects of the shutdown. Here is a roundup of a few story lines from other news outlets.
Eight days after he published a public letter thanking members of the service, the Coast Guard's top officer, Adm. Karl Schultz, posted a video to Twitter thanking them again for working without pay and saying "you, as a member of the armed forces, should not be expected to shoulder this burden." He added that he finds it "unacceptable that Coast Guard men and women have to rely on food pantries and donations to get through day-to-day life as service members." Appearing with MCPO Jason M. Vanderhaden, Schultz also praised USCG civilians and said that he and Homeland Security chief Kirstjen Nielsen will "continue to seek solutions" to the shutdown, but did not offer further details. Watch the video on Schultz's Twitter account.
The Internal Revenue Service is approaching tax filing season but hundreds of employees are skipping work due to financial hardships, which could seriously hamper the agency's ability to get tax refunds processed, according to The Washington Post. The paper spoke to Tony Reardon, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, who said that there is a coordinated effort to put pressure on the government to pay federal employees. “They are definitely angry that they’re not getting paid, and maybe some of them are angry enough to express their anger this way,” Reardon said. According to the Post, the IRS workers brought back from furlough to work on refunds "are paid between $25,800 and $51,000 a year, depending on their seniority." Read more at The Washington Post.
David J. Skorton, the secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, wrote an op-ed published Tuesday in USA Today recounting the effects of the shutdown, including the $1 million in Smithsonian revenue lost each week. Skorton said that the "not recoverable" losses are due to the "closure of restaurants, shops, IMAX theaters and other operations" caused by the shutdown. Smithsonian employs over 4,000 feds, most of whom are furloughed. “It is reassuring and appreciated that the president and Congress have agreed to supply back pay once the government fully reopens,” Skorton wrote, but added that "the loss of each paycheck causes direct and significant harm” to the many employees with lower salaries. Read more at USA Today.
With approximately 800,000 federal employees going unpaid, more businesses are offering free or discounted services for those affected by the shutdown. Parade's financial columnist Leah Ingram put together a list of 11 businesses offering help for feds, including an online traffic school giving free classes to feds, SkyZone trampoline park offering a free 60-minute jump for feds and Second City's free improv classes for feds at their Hollywood and Chicago locations. Read more at Parade.