- The White House staff has received instructions on the imminent government shutdown, categorizing workers as exempt, excepted, or furloughed.
- Many federal employees are likely to be furloughed, with “essential” workers working without pay until the shutdown concludes.
- The looming shutdown stems from disagreements on spending plans and policies between Republicans and Democrats, including assistance to Ukraine and border and immigration policies.
Preparations are intensifying in Washington as the federal workforce braces for a possible government shutdown. White House staff received guidance through an email from the budget office, categorizing them into three distinct categories: exempt, excepted, and furloughed. The categorization was part of the measures to deal with the anticipated shutdown due to the lack of a spending deal.
Exempt and excepted workers were directed to report to work on the day following the anticipated commencement of the shutdown. The excepted workers encompass senior White House staff members, such as the chief of staff, director of the National Economic Council, and the press secretary, indicating that pivotal roles will continue their operations unhindered.
For those who didn’t fall into the exempt or excepted categories, the prospect of being furloughed looms. These employees must cease all work activities as of midnight on the day of the shutdown, bar a four-hour window allotted for “orderly shutdown activities.”
The email communicated that both furloughed and excepted employees “will receive retroactive pay for the furlough period as soon as possible” post the shutdown’s conclusion.
This is not an isolated struggle within the White House. Across all agencies, numerous federal employees are likely to face furlough, with some being deemed “essential,” and thereby obligated to work, albeit without pay until the end of the shutdown.
This procedure is in response to the absence of agreement on a spending plan, causing Republicans to scramble to converge on a stopgap bill.
House conservatives and their leader, Kevin McCarthy, are striving to muster adequate votes for a bill. This proposed bill harbors not only profound spending cuts but also incorporates stringent border and immigration policies, reflecting the inclinations of the hard-line conservatives within the Republican chamber.
These policies, however, are clashing fiercely with the propositions from Congressional Democrats and the White House, rendering the bill’s journey into law virtually impossible.
The disconnect between the two major political entities is palpable. The Democrat-controlled Senate is pitching a bipartisan plan intended to sustain government functions until mid-November. This proposition also involves extending $6 billion in new assistance to Ukraine.
However, this measure is finding no traction amongst House Republicans, who are expressing reluctance, advocating instead to restrict or altogether cease further assistance to Kyiv amid its ongoing conflict with Russia’s invasive forces.
The potential shutdown is a mirror to past events, the last one being in 2018-2019, stretching for 35 days, marking it as the longest in US history. That shutdown was the result of then-President Donald Trump’s steadfast refusal to approve a funding bill absent of provisions for his border wall.
The eventual resolution was a temporary measure that reopened the government, without the additional funding for the wall, a concession from Trump.
Nonetheless, in the current scenario, he has been vocal in encouraging House Republicans to persist in their push, thereby driving the government towards another shutdown.
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