AFGE explains what will happen if there’s a federal government shutdown
The following is from the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE):
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Sept. 27, 2023) — A group of House Republicans is ready to shut down the government if their demand for a series of deep budget cuts and conservative policy changes is not met. The shutdown will bring unprecedented chaos to the entire country as both military personnel and civilian employees will either be locked out of their jobs or required to work without pay. Critical government services will be put on hold.
Unlike the partial shutdown in 2018-2019 which affected only certain agencies, this shutdown will affect most federal employees as Congress has not enacted any of the 12 appropriations bills to fund the government in fiscal year 2024 that starts Oct. 1. The same group of Republicans has also blocked efforts to pass a clean short-term funding measure known as continuing resolution (CR).
TAKE A STAND — AFGE urges all union members and community supporters to send a message to Congress urging them to Stop the Shutdown! You can also visit afge.org/ShutdownCall to place a call to your members of Congress.
Why is the shutdown happening?
The House Freedom Caucus, the most conservative and extreme bloc of the Republican Party, is threatening to withhold funding and shut down the government if their demands are not met.
In exchange for their support for a CR designed to avert the shutdown Oct. 1, they demanded any funding bill include their preferred language on border security, include no additional aid to Ukraine, cut funding at the Department of Justice, and eliminate diversity and inclusivity programs at the Department of Defense.
They also demanded massive, across-the-board cuts beyond the numbers House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and President Joe Biden agreed to as part of the debt ceiling deal earlier this year. These cuts would hurt the missions of the agencies at which AFGE members serve.
How does a shutdown work?
If Congress fails to pass funding by Sept. 30, the government will shut down. If employees are required to work during the shutdown, they are considered “excepted” employees.
Furloughed employees will be notified, but they may not receive advance written notice of a furlough. A written notice is usually provided as soon as possible after the furlough begins. At the Social Security Administration (SSA), for example, its Memorandum of Understanding with AFGE states that a reasonable effort will be made to provide the notice in advance, but it usually happens during the ½ day shutdown prep after the shutdown has happened.
Employees who are required to work will also receive a notice that says they need to work during the shutdown.
Who will be furloughed?
The Office of Management and Budget maintains agency contingency plans during a shutdown. A few examples of furlough plans:
The Social Security Administration plans to furlough 8,500 employees who will be locked out of work without pay. More than 52,500 will be required to work without pay.
At the Department of Defense, about 199,000 civilians of 805,000 will be required to work without pay. About 166,000 will continue to work and get paid as they are not paid through annual appropriations. The rest – about 440,000 civilians– will be locked out of work without pay.
NASA is expected to furlough 17,000 employees without pay while 1,300 will be required to work without pay.
Who won’t get paid? What about other benefits?
Up to 4 million military and civilian employees will be affected if Congress shuts down the government. About 2.2 million are federal employees. The rest are active-duty military and reservists.
According to the White House, all active-duty military personnel and most civilian employees will either be locked out of work without pay or required to work without pay. Those who are required to work but won’t get paid are those deemed “essential” like troops, law enforcement officers, and TSA officers.
Some employees will still get paid if:
- Their agency is self-funded and Congress does not limit its expenditures through an appropriation limit. Employees working at Defense Department retail and grocery stores, for example, will continue to work and get paid as their salaries are paid by the stores’ revenues.
- Their agency receives multi-year funding and has not gone through its entire multi-year appropriation.
- Their agency receives “no-year” money (usage not limited to specific fiscal year) and funds remain in the no year account.
We need to stop the shutdown
AFGE has launched our shutdown page at afge.org/StopTheShutdown to provide facts, information, and actions members can take to help avoid a shutdown. The site includes talking points, a sample letter to the editor, sample media release, unemployment info, and other important information.
Please visit afge.org/shutdown and urge your members of Congress to pass funding and stop the shutdown.