Federal government braces for shutdown
Mon, 30 Sep 2013 23:01:07 GMT —
With the clock ticking closer toward a government shutdown, congressional lawmakers are engaged in partisan ping pong over a budget to keep the federal government operating past midnight, the start of the new fiscal year.
The Senate has voted once again to reject a resolution by House Republicans that would fund the government but delay implementation of the Affordable Care Act. The Senate acted within moments to kill the latest House offering.
President Barack Obama is ramping up pressure on Republicans to avoid a post-midnight government shutdown. He says a shutdown would hurt the economy and hundreds of thousands of government workers.
He says it would "throw a wrench into the gears" of a recovering economy.
He urges the House to pass a short-term spending bill free of any conditions that would weaken the nation's 3-year-old health care law.
Obama spoke Monday after the Senate rejected a House proposal to delay implementation of the health care law. House Republicans were preparing to vote on another stop-gap spending measure, this one putting off a requirement that people must obtain health insurance.
The White House issued a veto threat to that proposal shortly after GOP leaders proposed it.
Meanwhile, the Senate adopted a bill to pay members of the military in case the government shuts down.
The unanimous voice vote Monday sends the legislation to the White House for President Barack Obama's signature. The development came with just hours before a shutdown deadline at midnight. During a shutdown, essential federal employees are expected to report for duty but face delays in receiving their pay.
Now, if the government really does shut down, members of the armed forces will receive their paychecks on time but civilian workers won't.
The House passed the legislation early Sunday morning.
Federal employees will still have to report to work for about four hours Tuesday even if the government shuts down.
Federal agencies have told employees that the only work they can do must be related to the shutdown.
Shutdown tasks include changing voicemail messages, posting an out-of-office message on email, securing work stations and documents and completing time cards. Once they head home, furloughed employees are under strict orders not to do any work. That means no checking emails on Blackberries or smart phones.
Office managers are encouraging workers to leave government-issued equipment in a secure place in the office.
If a shutdown continues, all employees can expect to be paid on schedule on Oct. 15, 2013 for hours worked from Sept. 22 through Sept. 30.