This article has been updated since Thursday, December 27, 2019. Scroll down and search the keyword “update” to find some of the most recent information. Dates will be mm/dd/yyyy type format.
Quick sharkbite: How does this affect you? Well if you aren’t a federal worker but receive services from one of the agencies you could get affected. Examples would be if you were needing a proof of transcript for buying a house or student aid. Or you are trying to check out a national historical site.
Note to readers: Italics and bold fonts and lists will help guide you through this article. It is a rolling update and a very long article if you try to read it in one sitting.
First update: 11:13 PM 12/27/2018
Today is day 6th of the federal shutdown. Our article will probably not be a live update of the shutdown but will give you some general information.
For a list of various shutdowns and lengths see: https://www.statista.com/chart/1510/government-shutdowns-in-the-united-states/
According to Statistica the average shutdown is around 6.41 days or basically slightly less than one week.
What exactly a shutdown? Well, a shutdown is caused by either the inability for a compromise or a deal between the House and the Senate and sometimes the executive branch as well regarding how funds in the government should be spent. Basically inability to come up with a funding and budget plan and pass it into law in a timely manner for government agencies. It can cause a stalemate and halt to all non-essential operations until they come to some middle ground. There are often several hundred thousand employees involved and often they still have to pay bills and worry if they are going to work or whether they should draw unemployment or not while. There is often no guarantee of back pay even though often do receive back pay but it can be several days, weeks or even years. The delay in pay can cause a lapse on the part of the employee in paying utility bills and making rent payments as well. Often it can affect the ability to get services at a national park.
Only employees that are deemed essential are required to continue working until everything is allowed to be reopened. And essential people usually include medical staff at the VA and TSA agents, security and border operations and mostly anything involving law enforcement and security. They are usually not paid at this time.
The reason why they seem to have implemented this shutdown scenario regularly now came because agencies were spending too much and way before they even got funding and basically were abusing the system like many other places and so they enacted this process to hopefully prevent people from doing so in such a way that it would deter overspending and allow fiscal responsibility. However often the department heads in D.C. need time to decide what truly is essential to spend things on since everyone has a need and everyone says they are important. No one wants to lose funding of course and try explaining that the elders don’t get SSA checks to them. Not easy. So luckily due to political consequences that would happen, the majority of times budgets get passed without problems. But sometimes some extra testy or controversial issues come up such as for new health care and immigration policies and it gets stonewalled in an effort for one side to get the other to see how important it may or may not be to get funding for that issue. See Antideficiency Act: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antideficiency_Act
Many times there were short funding gaps of less than two days over two decades ago. While subsequent shutdowns have gotten longer and longer. This year there have been three shutdowns in a single year. The last time we had three shutdowns in a single year seems to have been back in 1977 under Carter and those lasted on average between 8 to 12 days. That was 41 years ago. How did we get to this point? The modern Budget Act of 1974 requires that a budget has to be passed to be able to move forward and when they can’t come to an agreement the funding for the agencies lapse and they can’t spend what they don’t have. Back then no employees were sent home without pay also known as a “furlough”.
A quick educational summary of shutdowns can be found here below.
Also see: https://www.cnn.com/2018/01/13/politics/us-government-shutdowns-budget-chart/index.html
A little bit about the Clinton shutdown. According to their article there have been at least 18 shutdowns since 1976. With the longest one being under Clinton [until this most recent one as of this writing which has now officially surpassed the Clinton shutdown]. Compared to 2018 Business Insider says the one under Clinton only had 284,000 employees affected while the 2018 shutdown has affected at least 800,000. This year it has been mainly about immigration policies and is also historic in that one party controls both houses in Congress.
This third shutdown of 2018 under the current president also happened at midnight on a weekend. The one in 1995 happened December 15th and not until December 18 of Monday morning did employees feel repercussions. The one this year officially lapsed at December 22nd and there was a holiday granted to all employees for Christmas Eve and also the Christmas holiday and then the following day would have been the normal work day on December 26th but there has not been any real sessions in Congress. They are doing pro forma sessions where they meet for a few minutes just to say they are meeting and then adjourn for another day. Pro forma sessions are basically shell sessions . It is likely Congressional representatives that haven’t gone home for the holidays or are in the local area. They keep the Congress technically still in session so temporary appointees can’t happen from the executive branch.
Also there was a winter session in 1995 according to the articles that a bad snow storm blocked off the area until January 6th before they were ale to reconvene to take care of the shutdown back then. So it took longer to reopen everything.
January will see new speakers and changes in parties and representatives. However, in all likelihood the shutdown will likely remain till January.
List of bad things. A lot of people are mad and can feel rage over the holidays or frustration that:
1) It affects their peace of mind during the holidays due to the uncertainty
2) They don’t know if they are going to be laid off or furloughed as it is called. Furlough is basically where they aren’t getting paid but may be recalled once funding is figured out.
3) They don’t know how they are going to make rent or pay bills or presents for the holidays. Many live paycheck to paycheck
4) Pay checks will be delayed a week for most.
5) The stock market just tanked this year and has dropped nearly 7 to 10% this year at least. If you have a several hundred thousand dollar portfolio in your 401k or TSP then you’ll probably have lost several thousands this year.
6) This is often their only source of income since many people don’t invest or have another source of income or may have disability since they are often an older workforce and so may have additional difficulties to see additional employment.
7) They have to figure out how to get to work if they ride the bus or drive and commute back and forth to work each day. If they drive they have to figure out parking. Previously they may have gotten commuting stipends or compensation for the month but now since they are no longer commuting on a regular basis their bus fare etc is going to waste for the month. And parking and gas gets costly since they are paying out of pocket for a few hours of work if they are working exception duties.
8) There is a lot of politics going on about “what he says, what she says” and these political power struggles are causing the employees to be caught in the fray against their wishes
9) Back pay is not guaranteed.
10) Some people have no choice but to apply for unemployment and then may have to pay it back later
11) It reduces morale. And makes employees grouchy and angry at other employees. Gripe at management and often take it out at customers and back and forth.
12) For some single family income households or reduced income households some may have to sign up for unemployment but then if back pay is granted they may have to pay back this unemployment at a later point in time to not double dip. Often people are struggling to make rent and pay their mortgage and there are rumors of a recession about to happen.
There was a congressional session on December 27th but it got pushed to December 31st.
Our site encourages Internet usage as part of the methods of staying smart and ahead of the curve.
- One thing you can do to stay on top of the information is to check the Senate live congressional videos. They have live feeds where you can see what is happening.
- CNN has a live shutdown clock that was useful for keeping track of how long the shut down had been in session.
- Also Twitter is super useful for this.
- You can follow OPM and also your agency’s site to keep up on things.
Just think, if you didn’t have Internet or a cellphone to receive alerts you would be totally clueless in a situation like this. It is quite concerning because even though it was on the news on the headlines and on the TV lot of people still did not know come Wednesday December 26th of 2018 that many federal offices were closed till they went there to do business and realized that their appointments had been cancelled and they weren’t rescheduled and they just got voicemails or saw signs on doors and parks that things were closed. Considering that the impact is supposed to be minimal and people were celebrating the Christmas holiday it was probably a rude shock that they couldn’t pay their bills at a local office too.
Now that the new year is coming there is still uncertainty and people are going on with business as usual. Hopefully it will be a new year where fiscal certainty will be the norm. Are you caught in the fray? What have you done to learn about the situation going on? How has it affected the way you deal with your finances? Comment below, no personal info please.
Update 1/5/2019. As of today there is still no certainty as the new session of Congress has started and new people sworn in we are still no closer to a deal. The executive branch has said that this could last for months to years and that is ludicrous that 800,000 federal works are affected and CNN has said that it affects at least 9 of 14 agencies. The tax refunds could be delayed this year while only essential operations are open. Parks are having problems with trash and maintenance and janitorial duties. A lot of TSA agents are calling in sick and several other agencies are starting to be affected such as Department of Labor and their e-verify systems. Airlines aren’t able to get approval to add new planes to their business fleets because they have to undergo safety inspections. Departments that have been affected so far include Justice, Agriculture, Homeland Security, Interior, State, Housing and Urban Development, Treasury, Transportation, and Commerce. The FCC has suspended a few operations and so mergers might not be able to be reviews. Trash is being piled up is what is being reported. While there were talks that some plan was to try to reopen as quick as possible and a bill had been passed in the House it didn’t go through in the senate it seems. Also the National Zoo and museums that are associated with it are closed. That is at least 19 museums. Some USCIS functions are open but not all. And FDA is still doing core duties but not new applications. Surprisingly meteorologists were also partly affected but they are considered essential also. EPA is also delaying updating its site. Breweries that want to add new beers to their lineups have to get approved for beer labels and the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau is shut down. SEC is not able to approve new IPO’s and mutual fund offerings. Pipeline and wildlife operations are curtailed or slowed down. Offshore energy operations also are going to be affected as funding is lapsing. And people that need new homes will have tough times trying to verify their income. Another thing is that people that are getting Supplemental Nutrition Assistance through food stamps are going to start having problems if this goes into February.
Thankfully there are a lot of parts of government that are unaffected including welfare, social security, and unemployment at this time. The livelihood and paychecks of thousands of workers are being held at stake here. And it also affects other parties such as bill collectors, credit card companies, rent collectors and other businesses. With less people working a lot of people are thinking of turning their energies to some other job or gig to get paid to meet bills and put food on the table. If they can’t get paid and there’s no guarantee or certainty then they need to find some other way to stabilize their own lives. Right no there is pending litigation to try to get the people that are excepted some pay for the work they are doing for free. And there’s no guarantee for back pay yet. A lot of workers are unwitting pawns in this political game of chess. And business owners that run food or vending shops or cafeteria restaurants in the building that the works normally patronize are not getting as many people going through their service and thus are going to have a projected slow down in income and cash flow.
Update 1/7/2019: It is now day 17 of the partial government shutdown. Many federal workers are still not able to go to work. Again what does this mean for you? Well it means that the longer this drags out that more people will be affected by the situation. Already they have quoted the figure as 800,000 federal workers are affected and this has been one of the longer shutdowns, longer than on in 2013. As it drags on it can affect people’s ability to collect food stamps for instance as there is a January deadline to meet for that. The House is trying to get everything open and then at least negotiate from there but the bill is basically DOA or dead on arrival because the Senate isn’t even introducing it as a measure. It has been said that the Treasury, OPM and GSA will be some of the first agencies to be hopefully opened and appropriations passed because they are essential to keep everything running smoothly. There is also the question of weather employees will get back pay or even a standard of living increase pay raise. And compounded on that there is the uncertainty with how it will affect tax filing season because a lot of agencies are shuttered the processing of everything will possibly be delayed. Is this a distraction from other stuff up there or is there really a crisis going on? There are after all many court cases that would have been going on that are now delayed.
Food stamps are needed by many young kids and also women that may need extra nutrition to feed their families. According to some news outlets the people on WIC are going to have problems at the end of the month if federal funding runs out. Perhaps there are state funding programs they may be able to dip into. It’s all a vicious ripple as anything they don’t have can also affect other areas such as food banks. And right now it’s the middle of winter. This will affect around 20 to 40 million according to Business Insider. Think about the fact also that most workers also have kids and if they have to pay child support, this payment still has to occur unless some financial exception is made. But this puts a serious hardship on an individual and could include jail time if they can’t meet obligations.
Most fed employees at least got one last pay check at the end of the year. But that is paying them the paycheck that they would get before the shutdown. They likely won’t see a paycheck for the upcoming week which is when they would be receiving one for the week of the shutdown.
HUD which is involved in housing also was not aware of the potential in lapse in appropriations and was caught off guard and now is sending letters trying to persuade landlords not to evict tenants, but this is bad because again it is a ripple effect and those landlords need income too to pay their own bills as well.
There is also news that TSA may worry about airport security during these times because they aren’t getting paid and workers are less apt to show up to work for free. And parks also have safety and sanitation issues with no patrollers to safeguard the park.
Right now there does not seem to be any recession exactly because the jobs report seems to have added more jobs recently but you have to predict anything could happen. If employees can’t make rent and pay landlords and many default on their mortgage there could be problems in the banking and financial sector in the long term. Stay up to date on the news for this one.
We are approaching a history making shutdown. We had a history making stock market decline in 2018 and now we are approaching a history making shutdown for the longest. The last one during Carter lasted about 18 days. And the record for the longest was under the Clinton administration which lasted around 21 days or so.
Many federal contract workers are going to be having issues also because they don’t get back pay like a lot of fed workers will. They may have to due to what’s going on let go of other good employees that they have. It is known that being a contractor is risky but also part of the industry. Hopefully many employees and contractors won’t be severely affected financially. Major defense contractors don’t currently seem to be drastically impacted but others have a risk of their contract work not getting paid. According to a Washington Post article, roughly 400,000 are furloughed without pay of the 800,000 federal workers. Many will not see a paycheck for the week if no deal is made by Tuesday, January the 8th.
There are also farmers that may be impacted by the shut down because it affects when they can apply for assistance. And people on food stamps or SNAP which gets funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture hasn’t been funded yet.
Food Distribution Programs that are coordinated with Indian Reservations aren’t getting timely federal funs. and then there are issues also with getting assistance for WIC which is the Women, Infants, and Children program for Special Nutritional Program. This is a sad situation. Some people will have to consider getting additional work and or part time income at this time to supplement their normal work. There is some talk that some areas have EBT card issues for getting their assistance money also. We have noted that some people are less than sympathetic to the plight of those on assistance programs but the problem is that some of these people don’t have the job skills, education and training currently or other disability issues to get ahead.
Tonight there will be some media coverage and a speech later tonight around 9pm EST that will talk about the shutdown.
Although in some news media outlets the proposal is for $5.6 billion for construction funding for security, one media outlet said it was about $5.7 billion. It also requests immigration judges, patrol agents and law enforcement hires and facilities. The proposal was updated to show an itemized reason of what was needed and why. There was also talk floating about about using emergency provisions to get construction started. This could go on for some time before everyone comes to a consensus what to do.
Update 9:43 PM 1/8/2019
The news is blowing up tonight and the Pres and Speaker of the House and Senate Minority leader was on the TV tonight. I haven’t seen such a busy news night as there was tonight. There were a lot of talking heads and opinions and fact checkers. Also they mentioned that the Coast Guard will be one of the one branches of military that won’t get paid if the shutdown goes past January 15 and that they are doing damage control to prevent tax season from being affected drastically by bringing in additional workers and that child support will be okay until March.
Looking at a few different news sources there wasn’t a “emergency declaration” officially declared but it is affecting so many workers. The representatives for the employee union on behalf of the Treasury are suing to get backpay and over time and damages for people that have to come in and still do work. Not only are they not being compensated for several weeks but paychecks will be missed by Friday night and any overtime that is done is also going without recognition for the work done. Many in border security also are affected even as they are in the political cross hairs and this is a second suit after a different lawsuit has been filed. You may know that in previous shutdown there were damages also filed and to be awarded including loss in productivity from a previous shutdown. It basically pits two laws which include the Anti-Deficiency Act for balancing the budget against Fair Labor Standards Act to ensure federal workers get at least the minimum pay and overtime as well.
Tonight included the first address from the current administration live from his office with a follow up response. Only time will tell how long this stalemate is going to go on.
Reminder that the longer this goes on the longer it will affect small businesses. Loan applications and certifications don’t get processed. Contracts and contract bidding is not processing as normal. Hiring and promotions are delayed. And those that need their tax information are met with an automated no service response. No one wants to have to borrow or have to take out a loan to pay back bills. This affects people not just pay wise but also their retirements and their health insurance. While some have a spouse or family to help them through this pay crisis, many don’t have that extra help. Help is not on the way.
Another thing to consider is that many people usually flood the bus system to get to work and the buildings are usually packed but without everyone there it starts to look like a ghost town as there may be a stray janitor or a few excepted employees. This means that if there was a medical emergency there is literally no one around to help and the people that have to take the extra time to commute back and forth to work are putting their time and lives at risk. Not only is it costing them money out of pocket if they are no longer getting transportation costs and mileage, but they have to worry about additional commute headaches.
For those affected consider and weigh the costs of part time work or signing up for unemployment versus having to pay it back or ramifications of back pay. Be aware that legislatively approved retroactive backpay for unemployment claims may or may not trigger an overpayment that may require a repayment to the state. Check with your state agency about rules and regulations regarding this. Also consider what other issues you may have to deal with if you don’t have health insurance coverage at this time for your family.
Another topic of concern I found on some pages was that ethics may come up because the fed worker needs money but may only be able to get donations or contributions a certain way, a certain amount, and only so much in a year. It raises the question of what’s a gift, and also about impartiality and need. Because obviously they have a need but fundraising in certain ways could be questioned later. And on that note you may also start to see some scams popping up sooner or later. This is an all around mess.
Update 9:27 PM 1/9/2019
Day 19 of the shutdown.
Federal Bureau of Prisons are not getting paid. It is said there are at least 30,000 workers there and a lot of unions are not happy. It is said in an article by The Atlantic that the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 prohibits fed employees from striking but never thought we’d have a scenario where they weren’t getting paid and essentially working for free.
Many people are worried about how long this will last. TSA, aviation, security for government officials, patrol agents and prison guards all are affected. A lot still have to go into work to avoid adverse disciplinary action, but what’s worse? Not getting paid and then leading to not working there any more and possibly losing out on retirement payments and pensions or not being able to support family and working for free? That’s a difficult situation and puts a lot of people in between a rock and a hard place. And also people that are leaving won’t have anyone to replace them immediately because they need someone to hire them and train them also.
Right now there are two unions suing on behalf of workers to get relief for workers who have no rights or say basically in the manner and are being unfortunately penalized in the struggles. AFGE and NTEU is trying to help by filing suit and just the other day put a temporary halt on recall for tax season employees about to be recalled to help out with the filing season.
At this time there’s not a lot that they can do. This will be one of the longest shutdowns and make most people question how long they can be patient and not get paid. At some point in time something is likely going to give and some may just cut losses to stop the bleeding. It’s not like they have any choice and not like they are making a lot of money.
Not much happened in the way of negotiations for today. According to Yahoo Finance and their WalletHub infographic the top 10 most affected states impacted by the shutdown were New Mexico, Maryland, Hawaii, Alaska, Virginia, West Virginia, Mississippi, Alabama, Arizona, and Rhode Island. And according to their news site is due to the large number of military and people that are involved in real estate.
There is also news about the FDA needing to bring in people to inspect food such as cheese and produce and baby formula.
Also note that a lot of employees need to have a good financial record and clean criminal and background check and often a credit score is used to get security clearances. And if they are not making income they may not be able to pay off credit card debt. Other things get affected such as danger of foreclosure, car repossession, and it takes several years to repair credit. And they can’t ethically be in a position that puts them at risk of conflict of interest where they could be coerced.
Update 8:18 PM 1/12/2019.
Today is now the longest a government shutdown has ever been according to multiple news sources. It beat a 1995 to 1996 shutdown under President Clinton which was 21 days. There seems to be no end in sight nor any quick moves in D.C. to end this shutdown stand off over border security. At least a quarter of the government in the U.S. is affected and most of the lawmakers have left the area to enjoy their weekend and so there will not me any major legislative action until next week.
While there is a lot of name-calling and finger-pointing trying to get the funding sorted out, there does not seem to be any compromise or negotiation at all. Again there is a lot of misinformation out there and people are asking about where in the end all this money is going to come from but ultimately it will cost the nation more than it probably is predicted in the end.
Currently another union is being sued after all the other unions previously stated in the articles above. The union for air traffic controllers are suing the FAA which is the Federal Aviation Administration because they are saying minimum federal wage laws are not being met. The good news is that TSA may get a since $500 bonus as an excepted employee to help them out since they worked the holiday season.
And this has also led to security personnel protecting members in D.C. staff to put out a warning of employee distress. Apparently they know that stress and anxiety is going to lead to possible disgruntled and unhappy workers. If you are are affected and feeling under pressure consider seeking out the Employee Assistance Programs out there for counseling also.
This is now the beginning of the fourth week in the shutdown and most workers have missed there pay or will not get their direct deposit come Monday.
The shutdown is also affecting government grant applications because the National Science Foundation, NASA, National Endowment for Humanities and many other agencies are not funded, or closed due to shutdown. Some other agencies though still remain open.
How long will this go on and how will this affect travel and procurement and purchases and additional grant and funding? This will definitely affect students and people also going to college. After all they have student loans and many rely on the grants and fellowships to help pay for housing and living expenses. They already aren’t making a lot of money as students and to have to deal with this is a double whammy that will affect their studies.
Not only that, but we have noticed that many banks have started issuing statements to their customers and clientele that if they are affected by the shutdown that they can get some partial relief by negotiating lower interest or adjusting their loans. Some restaurants have also opened their doors to these federal employees and offered them some discounts to help the fact that they are not getting paid.
According to GovExec 350,000 federal employees will likely retroactive get back pay. This is called the 2019 Government Employee Fair Treatment Act and the senate has already approved it. It also states that they will be able to take scheduled leave without problems because the current policy requires that leave be canceled at the time of a furlough. Most of the people that are exempted and excepted get guaranteed back pay through current law but this does help relieve some of the burden placed on the workers. The law is written to make amends as soon as it is possible and also helps prevent a shutdown from further affecting the uncertainty of back pay in the future.
This unanimous support is one bright tunnel in an already tense situation where hard-line policies and stances threaten to derail negotiation discussions at every turn. While this helps an employee, the fate of contractors are still uncertain, dubious and up in the air but there are talks to try to implement a Contractor Back Pay Act but currently there are no firm votes on this yet.
Thursday was a day several agency employees had done a public protest to get paid and not be caught in the political cross-hairs.
A lot of people may wonder what will happen now that we’re so long into the shutdown. Here is the good, the bad and the ugly.
- The TSA and air travel is still open.
- Postal Service still is open and mail will still be delivered since they get money through sales and services.
- The Food and Drug Administration is still monitoring some aspects of food and drug safety.
- Many top level executives in Congress are donating salaries back to the agencies and charity.
- Tax refunds will likely go out on time according to an agency memo and commentary from the Office of Management and Budget.
- Due to the shutdown, air travel may experience delays.
- The FDA will not be open the whole time entirely and only parts of it is open as necessary.
- Many immigration court cases are backlogged.
- The Coast Guard is furloughed or working without pay since they are under Homeland Security.
- Smithsonian and the National Zoo is closed.
- Some parks that are still open are starting to have sanitation and safety issues.
- Some Native Americans will have a reduction in funding from the Bureau of Indian Affairs at this time.
- Transportation Safety Board will be furloughed and so much of the work is delayed.
- Employees likely will get back pay but not contractors.
- Unemployment also can be taken but with likelihood it will have to be paid back after back pay is paid.
- Health insurance continues but premium debt will accumulate to be deducted from paychecks after the government reopens. That is really unfortunate!
- FSAs won’t be reimbursed till later. Premiums for long term care and dental and vision premiums also accumulate.
- Life insurance also continues for a year with not cost to agency or the working employee.
- The government 401k equivalent, that is the TSP will not get contributions at this time although loans can be taken but again must be paid back within a certain time.
As the editor of this article, I know some people personally affected by this and feel sympathetic to the plight of everyone involved. Some people don’t know when they will have to go to work every day if they are essential and also have to pay commuting costs which are now likely not to be reimbursed or not authorized for funds. Come next week after the large snow storm that is hitting the country, many will have to worry about commuting through the icy, snowy roads without public transportation. Hopefully roads will be cleared by then.
Update: 11:19 PM 1/13/2019
Lately some firearms and weapons have gotten through airport security. Now whether that was a result of the shutdown and lapse of security or just accidental missed screenings is yet to be determined. The official response per their agencies was that it was not part of anything due to the shutdown at this time.
Some of the economic advisors stated that the shutdown was just like a vacation, but unfortunately that doesn’t take into account that in a vacation they normally would still be paid or have paid vacation. In this circumstance they are not getting paid and there is worry about back pay and rent and bill payments due.
There was news that TSA would pay employees for the day after the immediate lapse in funding (December 22) plus a one time $500 bonus for working during the travel season. And that there was some emails going out to heavily discourage and prevent employees from calling in sick. The bonus pay is set to out by the upcoming Tuesday.
Right now the stock market is still doing well and has rebounded some since the pre-Christmas fall.
Dow is down some today and Bitcoin is down also even. Shutdown day 24 is happening. Some in the Senate are urging for those that make the decisions to open parts of the government. The partial shutdown is now going on for about three weeks so far and is now the longest shutdown in the history of the United States. Several workers that work the public are now left unpaid for the first time and without work as government offices remain closed. The budget hasn’t been approved because it does not include a $5.7 billion dollar border security package that the executive branch wants so much. This is being denied because it includes additional construction and a controversial barrier between two countries that may have repercussions many years after this current administration.
Currently there is talks about bypassing Congress to get money by declaring an emergency in the interest of national security but this too is being hotly debated as to the legality of such an action.
Many are urging for a vote and a partial reopening of the government during the negotiations but so far no further progress has been made and the winter weather has also dumped a lot of snow in many parts of the country which could delay reconvening of members of Congress. January 11th marks roughly when a new paycheck would be issued but most people are going without a paycheck
According to BBC news the Houston Bush airport stopped security screening at some terminals due to staff shortage and are redirecting them elsewhere for screening.
They have an infographic that tells the approximate days of funding gaps.
Here is a summary from the BBC where their data is from the Congressional Research Service:
1982 through 1984: Five 1 day funding gaps
1984 through 1984: Two 2 day funding gaps
1982 through 2018: Four 3 day funding gaps
1995 : One 5 day funding gap
2013 : One 16 day funding gap
1995 : One 21 day funding gap
2018 : One 24+ day funding gap
Our site always encourages looking at every aspect of the situation. Do note that while the shutdown continues, some of the news coverage gets diverted away from other stories such as investigations and protests in France and other world news. It also deflects from the economy and stock market and financial stability. So far there does not seem to be a recession or anything like that. But also keep in mind that while the shutdown happens if you are a federal employee you can’t put any money into your 401k to invest and you can’t invest in crypto if that’s what you were wanting to do while the price is low. Fortunately the TSP still continues its daily price updates. According to its website it allows for suspending of loan payments when in nonpay status to prevent the loan from defaulting. And on top of that it states that “As long as retroactive pay is approved, all missed loan payments will be submitted and posted to your loan”. So that is a good thing for those having financial worries. The site says that if you were up to date on loans right before the shutdown then one or two missed payments won’t have any effect on defaulting the loan. Also normally documentation is required but it is not needed at this time.
Things going on right now include at least roughly 2 million Native Americans and the ones in Alaska are affected by the funding lapse.
TSA lines are said to be an hour long at some airports.
Most of the lawmakers and President would typically get paid according to the Constitution but many have chosen to donate their paychecks to charity.
The weather has a lot of D.C. employees off work due to the inclement snow weather.
According to CNN we’ve had shutdowns since 1976 under Ford, Carter, Reagan, H.W. Bush, Clinton, Obama, and Trump.
Let’s look at how many days under their administration:
Carter: 56 total
Reagan: 14 total
H.W. Bush: 3
Clinton: 26 total
Trump: at least 24 and counting.
Unfortunately, the longer this shutdown goes the less likely anyone will compromise or come to a deal.
Here is some update to tax refunds and offices. It says that NTEU is filing a lawsuit on behalf of employees deemed excepted and forced to work without timely pay. And their suit being brought is saying that there is a possible violation of Fair Labor Standards Act that require them to have a certain amount of pay. Right now the persons being called are based on a few things such as position and Enter on Duty date and their salary grade with those in the lowest seniority have to come in. According to the union contracts there is some provision for financial hardship to be taken into consideration and that a person called to duty cannot just refuse to come in. There is also no paid leave for several people but medical and illness reasons are usually allowed time off.
Unemployment applicants may need a SF-8 and their most recent records. Those with financial troubles can also get an agency letter about the furlough in many cases.
Hopefully the Government Employee Fair Treatment Act for 2019 will allow back pay for those at home.
It says that many walk-in offices will not be open for now and there are no plans to open them up till things get sorted out.
Currently the employee union representing these Treasury employees are holding rallies to get back pay and hold off on mandatory recall back to work without pay as the workers are caught in the political crossfire.
This union also represents EPA, FCC, FDA, the Election Commision, Park Service, Patent offices, USDA, SEC and orther Enforcement as well as Commodity and Trading commissions.
According to their website they filed two lawsuits last week (January 9 & 10th) that consider it unconstitutional to work without pay during lapse in appropriations with the argument that the Antideficiency Act is being violated in the Appropriations clause because promising to pay employees later is causing the government to incur liabilities before it has the funds to do so. After all, that’s what the bill or act was designed to do in the first place. And it minces words with the fact that recalling more employees to work in light of the lack of progress in negotiation efforts is basically having them do pay under the reasoning that excepted employees are there to protect life and property. The union leader in a press release states that there should be no debate to the pay issue: work and get paid, else no money for pay means no work.
Vacation and leave that was scheduled before the end of the year is also something that furloughed employees can consult with the agency regarding the policy for that.
Stay tuned to the news for more up to date information for this ongoing event.
Update: 2:55 PM 1/15/2019
See the following link. More people are being affected as the shutdown is now into its 25 day.
According to the above link it even says that some employees both TSA and investigative agents are in danger of going into debt if this continues to drag on. But it also mentions that going into debt can jeopardize security clearances.
NTEU, National Air Traffic Controllers Association and a few fed workers per Yahoo states that the gov violated 5th and 13th Amendments of the Constitution but a judge struck down the motion for a temporary restraining order today that would require gov employees to get pay by the gov during the shutdown and also the ability to stay at home of their own volition. Further arguments can be presented before January 31st though.
The judge basically threw the decision on bill appropriation back to Congress and said judges can’t bind the government on how to appropriate the bills only Congress. So unfortunately many will have to go to work while lawyers and attorneys find another way to win the argument. This court also is set to run out of government funds by the end of the week. The judge also acknowledged that economic harm or hardship was happening but allowing essential employees not to come to work would be an even worse situation and create “confusion” and “chaos”. With that, according to CNN, there is a plan to bring back 36,000 fed employees to process tax money. There was a litigation but unfortunately the temporary restraining order was rejected today and so apparently there is some plan currently being undertaken to make sure all refunds go out on time.
Update: 10:38 AM 1/16/2019
What’s been happening as a result of the shutdown:
Tax season is beginning soon and employees are being ordered back to work without pay. FAA is recalling safety inspectors to work without pay. FDA is calling in food inspectors to work without pay. Fish and Wildlife is being called in.
Court hearings are being delayed for immigration as well as non-immigration related cases. Many fed courts will have funding set to run out on January 25th. Certain economic reports are delayed and air craft certification and research projects for college. Also IPO approval by SEC or mergers are delayed. Certain construction projects are delayed. Paychecks for Native Americans and help programs are delayed. Space program repairs are delayed. Food and Drug Administration is set to run out of funding around the end of February.
Coast Guard is not getting paid and security service for executive branch members not getting paid. Federal Investigative branches not getting paid.
Economy is slightly impacted a bit more as this drags on. Unemployment claims are starting to pick up more. According to CNN essential employees and those called back to work are not eligible for this state unemployment. This also affects student loans and financial aid. There are issues also with HUD.
SNAP and food stamps as starting to have some issues and will start having even more when February comes.
Mass transit subsidies or financial assistance is being affected.
And many other agency projects are halted. Contractors and their projects are also delayed, on hold or behind and also behind on payments.
If the computers at many offices aren’t already turned off to save energy they are at risk for data intrusion also. This include FTC, FCC reporting of ID theft and complaints will not be processing claims during the shutdown.
Credit rating of the US could be affected.
The Speaker of the House is asking that the date of the State of the Union Address be moved to a later date after the gov has reopened citing security concerns and lack of funding in their departments for coordinating and planning these public events.
It is also now official that the pres has signed a back pay bill guaranteeing that fed workers will get paid when the shutdown ends. As for what happens now so that they can meet their current obligations, that’s still up in the air.
Update 1/21/2019 at 9:59PM
Not much progress has been made on the shutdown. It seems like there is a major standstill in the negotiations. One site was quoted saying TSA had at least 10% of the staff off as compared to last year. And there seems to be some places offering TSA free concessions to movies and also food for fed employees but it seems to be hit or miss. It seems no one is worried that these people are not receiving money to pay bills.
Fortunately some of the transportation cards still work. We checked a few employees locally that travel and commute using the bus system and their bus card renews with bus allotments in the beginning of the month. With the shutdown they were worried that no new funds would be loaded to the card but they fortunately were able to get money loaded. But it is still a trade off to drive downtown and work a few hours and then only work a few hours. Let’s say you get paid between $15 an hour and you only work 3 hours a day for two days a week. Then you would make $90. You have to drive downtown and pay about $11 for parking and gas is about $30 usually for let’s say two weeks. And you have to still drive to get groceries or pick up things around town. You basically are eating up half of what you’re making and then if you go out to a nice dinner or meal with your significant other your money you earned for the week is gone. It really isn’t very lucrative to be working and you might be better served and make money elsewhere.
Also let’s do a calculation on the wages lost. Since the TSA is in the news so much and not any other employees for whatever reason we will use this for a calculation example to illustrate loss of pay. Based on payscale.com, a TSA officer makes roughly about $16 an hour. So $16 at 40 hours a week is $640 or $1280 at 80 hours every two weeks. If that is over 26 pay periods then they only make about $33,280 a year which if you’re trying to do taxes then 2019 taxes we will assume a few things. According to statistics on Google over 50% of families are married with at least 2 children. Taxes for 2018 don’t appear to have exemptions but an increased standard deduction and if you subtract out a married filing joint deduction the amount of tax comes to about $888 according to 2019 Tax Rate Schedules. While a single individual came out to about $2336 tax.
According to FederalLawEnforcement.org, TSA employees use a different type of grading system to figure out salary ranges. Whereas most agencies use a general schedule also known as a GS scale. The TSA uses SV. And their ranges go from A to M which according to FedWeek.com also corresponds roughly to GS grades 4 through 15. They also have locality and pay increases and special circumstances.
Now don’t forget that this also affects not just salary but also they are losing out on their retirement that they could be contributing too. Let’s say they contributed to their retirement. 10% would be $3328 and 15% would be $4992. It is unclear how many contribute to their retirement in their gov equivalent of a 401k because I could not find any online data on this, but I take it not many do it or only contribute the minimum to get their matching. And then most people that work in whatever sector of gov might also not necessarily be savvy to invest additional income or even have the funds to do so and might not max out their IRA’s that they could do. If they did the maximum amount that they could do would be $6000 for 2019.
But the problem is that rent and housing is a major cost and is about $800 in some places, $1200 to $1500 in other places and really eats up the cost of a paycheck. If you go to national living standards on the Treasury and tax department they have a figure of $1694 as the amounts for food and rent and living expenses. You can see why a lot of people are living paycheck to paycheck and barely scraping by. Don’t forget the costs for a phone which most people pay. The average phone bill is about $80 a month or almost $130 or so for more than one line. And then a lot of people do Netflix and internet and cable subscriptions ($11 or so plus $80 or so for the cable) and have to pay at least $200 for food between a week to a month often even more. There are dishes to be done and costs for laundry and water. And with one paycheck already missed around January 11th and another around the 25th about to be missed the month’s expenses are basically shot. A lot of people also have student loans, medical debt, car payments, tuition costs and childcare payments not to mention child support payments as well to contend with.
Looking up the Health and Human Services Poverty Guidelines. That threshold is around $25,750 for a family of four and so you can obviously see that the average American family has trouble meeting payments or “making bank” and getting ahead if only one person is the breadwinner. Luckily a lot of people have a working spouse as well and that brings the salary level at least to $60k or more. But if ill-prepared many are often one or two paychecks from some financial difficulty.
Update 1/22/2019 at 11:40AM
Most federal workers are going to have another missed paycheck come this Friday if no negotiations are done and nothing is successful in the shutdown talks. There have been some theories as to what is actually going on here. Last week news reporting said that workers got pay stubs or paychecks with $0.00 on them. We have obtained one with permission to illustrate the situation and have redacted out any personal information so you can see what it’s like to be a federal employee at this time. It is not a pleasant situation.
As you can see in the above statement, on the last paystub right before Christmas, most federal workers did NOT get paid for the period for Christmas. They were furloughed at the time. They were basically at home unless they were essential employees. But they might have had to come in to perform a few essential duties to shutdown the office and then stay at home. For the essential duties that they did perform, they did not see any money in their net pay and basically worked for free through January 17, 2019. To add insult to injury, not only are they not getting paid, but they have to come in and do these things on call sometimes and not know when or if the political fallout will end and still have to do this while supporting a family and paying rent and bills. Here is another example of a pay stub that we obtained with permission.
As you can see there is not a lot of information on here. The gross pay period and hours are at 80 which is two 40 hour work weeks but there is no net pay. Most of the other fields in there remain intact and the other sensitive fields have been pretty much blocked out. The leave status fields were redacted out abut the middle section is pretty much the same as it was when we got the obtained the pay stub. No health insurance in there, and no tax withholding. Basically a blank empty pay stub.
We hope that the political gridlock will make some progress soon so that those that are in dire financial straits in care-taking for their families will be able to provide again. Right now there are talks for another deal to extend some of the immigration policy protections and they are going to have another vote on Thursday. There is also talk of how some essential employees aren’t able to apply for temporary unemployment pay to help their income in places. It truly is an inconvenience it seems all the way around.
Update: 2:01PM 1/23/2019
It is day 32 of the longest historical shutdown in the history of the U.S. and going onto Day 33. Right now it is more than likely that fed employees will miss their second paycheck since the beginning of the shutdown. There is a 2019 Employee Fair Treatment Act that guarantees those that are furloughed and required to work will get back pay immediately when the shutdown ends but right now there is still absolutely no end in sight. Some have to undergo austerity measures to buy groceries or buy medical prescriptions and decide if they can buy pay for simple necessities such as refilling their car or if they can afford to pay for college bills. It’s important enough for most that there is a bill being introduced to try to pay the employees now.
According to a Fedsmith article since these shutdowns have been recurring quite regularly they advise to have had the financial planning foresight to have three month’s to a year’s worth of expenses saved up in good ties. Pay is simply being delayed. Most fed employees have had this on the back of their minds for the last few years. And so it’s always a good idea in the light of this to prepare for the next time this could happen again. While there is a bit of political debate that some of the employees “knew what they were getting into” or were sufficiently warned ahead of time, it is completely unfortunate and not necessarily fair to be affected and have a loss of control on normal income.
The employees are put into an impossible situation currently where those that go into work are basically working for no pay but might be better suited for some other work, but no one will hire them possibly temporary and they can’t be absent without leave or they would be put into disciplinary status.
There are talks to introduce a bill to prevent future shutdowns
Also excepted employees are accruing leave but can’t take this until funding is provided. No retirement contributions are being made and neither are any discretionary allotments. FSA dependent care expenses might be reimbursed, Long Term Care coverage likely is going to continue but will probably accrue a debt till it gets paid back at work. Also life insurance and dental and vision likely will be similar in that it continues and debt is incurred.
According to Federal Times there is a motion to try to bring two amendments to get pass to reopen the gov through February 8th and it needs a two-thirds majority to bypass a veto. This is based around some additional proposed legislation proposed around Saturday, January the 19th in a Presidential address originally set for 3PM Eastern Standard Time but pushed to 4PM Eastern Standard Time. It was about half an hour. The main points involved additional amounts for humanitarian assistance, drug detection and agents, a physical barrier, and 3 years of relief and protected status for immigrants. We will see how this fares in a vote on Thursday, January 24th as the news comes in.
Don’t forget that this affects other businesses and rent collectors and will start to affect people’s credit scores. In these times and going through some comments and replies to the news articles people are quite resilient and looking for tips to help one another save or get things on discount, or save and buy in bulk. One viewer wrote that they keep a “gratitude list” to recognize what they do have as opposed to what they don’t have. People are going back to basics on apps to save on prescriptions, not eating out, cooking in bulk and freezing them and skipping haircuts, skimping on shampoo or using less. Or considering a second job such as driving or making their own supplies and soups, etc. Some good sites they recommend is Dave Ramsey and MrMoneyMustache. Perhaps they have not had circumstances like these and know the basic concepts of saving, but it still doesn’t stop the bleeding and the bills coming in and lack of income.
Commenters from these forums include some wondering why the workers can’t just walk out. Well that action would basically remove their years they saved up to get retirement benefits, not to mention would guarantee the likelihood of no back pay and also cause additional uncertainty. Other comments say the workers are either not getting paid well, not saving properly or not living in their means. Circumstances like these don’t allow for a fair judgment since every individual has their own circumstances. Many readers that see the plight that’s occurring may take heed and think of what if scenarios as this may ripple across to other industries as bills and rent money doesn’t come in and affects other industries. These “couch financial advisors” are not necessarily wrong that it is a good thing to prepare for the worst, natural disasters, and other unplanned scenarios. Although it may appear that they seem unsympathetic, we interviewed one worker who stated that they had worked in gov work for some time and they said that when they were working as a seasonal or holiday temp employee that their supervisor had told them to prepare for rainy days and a temporary emergency fund. Having worked close to a decade or more in various jobs they attested that having a rainy day fund was essential to their surviving and living with furloughs and many times having to take unemployment. While working in packaging, shipping and mail the employee stated didn’t get really high pay, worked many hours and weekends and lots of overtime, but was often exhausted at the end of the day with not a lot of personal free time to themselves and stuck in the job with no benefits as a seasonal employee.
Other commenters on some of the articles are not so nice and have range of comments directed at the lawmakers, executives and question the necessity of the employees that still show up but don’t get paid and often out of their own expenses and wallets are taking extra costs to get to work to pick up the slack.
According to a CNN article, fed courts are set to run out of operating costs on January 25th. The start of tax filings is January 28th and set to begin as normal while GDP reports may be delayed at the end of the month and many HUD, WIC, FDA agencies will be affected in another month or so. More and more agencies will start shutting down or be largely impaired as this drags on including FAA, FDA, USDA, USPTO for instance. Previous shutdowns had ruled the not getting paid was illegal and caused harm and didn’t meet minimum salary standards and this one will likely have suits brought against it as well. Some soundbites from people include people saying that they play to either work or resign but either way they don’t get paid so everyone is in a bad way and as one person put it, “getting screwed”. According to a GovExec article, no one had ever in their “wildest dreams” thought it would ever go on this long.
The shutdown has a silver lining for a few in that it allows some to pursue creative endeavors such as art and acting, side hustles, perhaps write a book or pursue volunteer (although doubtful on this latter one happening right now due to financial hardships). Some have commented that when they were laid off one time they were able to devote 100% of their effort into a backup gig or pursuit they had tabled aside for a while and pursue either college again. Perhaps you are going through financial straits and now taking stock of your financial inventory and assets and calculating your net worth. Whatever is happening, take the time to ponder and think and refocus what is important to you and what the pain of the shutdown makes you want to do and if that means setting a financial goal or life goal, what you might want to achieve and how to achieve it.
Update: 6:36 PM 1/24/2019
The first vote in the Senate to end the shutdown was 50-47 and according to The Guardian the outcome had originally been “incorrectly announced in the chamber as 51-47”. I checked it against CNN which said that it missed missed by 9 votes but has now been corrected to 50-47 which would mean 10 votes missed. This was also checked and collaborated with CNBC. In order to pass there needed to be 60 Yea votes in favor of passing the legislation.. This vote passing would have given a DACA extension of protection for three years temporarily and given them temporary protected status with money for fencing or wall.
The other vote to reopen the government was a proposal from the House and only got 52-44. This also needed 60 votes and so it failed. It would have reopened some of the gov through Feb 8 until more firmly agreeable terms regarding border security were accepted.
The State of the Union speech is also postponed till after everything is back to normal.
It is almost 4 weeks and now about 34 days since the beginning of the shutdown from December 22, 2018.
This shutdown may possible be costing the economy a billion or more per US News and lost productivity per GovExec.
This week’s paycheck is basically guaranteed to be zero again due to the lack of the reopening of the government and it passing the time to affect payroll.
There is a lot of people saying that they should take out loans or that it’s okay that these workers should be bargaining chips to advance a bigger agenda, but try telling that to your creditor or bill payers or your child you have to feed when you aren’t getting paid. No matter how much you think it’s an honorable thing or what the ideals are sometimes the harsh reality is that people still need to get by and make their living and they are going to feel like you’re infringing on their livelihoods and doing it on their backs.
According to the GovExec there is now a back pay IOU bill that accumulates every day in the sum total of about $86.5 million to pay the fed employees that have been furloughed. We are now on the 34th day of the shutdown, the longest in history and it has now gone on over a month and spanned into two separate years. These are not individual employees that are affected but the families, the creditors, and the people that do business with the government and all those employees and families that are affected. While back pay through the Government Employee Fair Treatment Act is now ensured, there is still a deal to be struck on the budget appropriation to ensure the shutdown ends. GovExec says they estimate $1001 a second is owed every second that the shutdown is in progress. GovExec uses Fedscope data for its calculation. See: https://www.govexec.com/pay-benefits/2019/01/trump-administration-spending-nearly-90-million-day-pay-feds-stay-home/154396/?oref=govexec_breaking_alert
Update 2:19 PM 1/25/2019
According to the Pres. in an impromptu press conference, a deal has been reached and is to be put to vote immediately to reopen the gov until February 15, 2019. The speech included a thanks from him to the fed employees working tireless in the background and caught in the mix without complaint.
According to CNN the continuing resolution is for three weeks at $1.3 billion for the year. Basically this is what could have been happening all this time. Also according to the same news site, tax processing workers didn’t show after being called back to work due to hardships. And there are headlines that some airports in New York were temporarily grounded due to the lack of workers. More information as it rolls in. This is still breaking news.
NBC News says this would mean the possibility of fast tracking the bill through the Congress without all members there for rollcall and quickly passing through unanimously back to the Pres to approve now that everyone is one the same page.
NBC also talked about 3 major reasons this may have gotten to this point including the airport hold up, the tax processing centers calling workers back but making them work for free and despite hardship complaints, and also the Bureau of Investigations being not too happy about working for free in a statement they made. BBC news also confirmed that over a quarter of a million workers were recalled but most didn’t and coun’t be reached.
Basically nothing has happened in nearly 5 weeks regarding the border funding and the Pres still has the option to declare “a national emergency” in 3 weeks as the NBC news reporter said that he wasn’t entirely admitting defeat and may have seemed contrite at putting everyone through the ringer over this. It is the weekend and the second paycheck has been missed by most but there’s a possibility that come Monday many may be returning to work if the deal goes through.
The news conference emphasized all the horrible things that could happen from the lack of security and so we will see if there will be anything that can salvage the wall and loss of wages and “loss of face” from people not winning their side. Hopefully this can be avoided in three weeks and we will see if this deal passes by Monday.
On a separate note this also means that the State of the Union speech will probably occur as well soon close to normal? A lot of fast moving political news lately. It is now about 34 Days, 15 hours, 30 minutes and 31 seconds going onto the 35th day at this time of writing.
Update: 4:16 PM 1/25/2019
According to FedSmith the short term agreement will be to fund border security at existing levels but not a wall in particular. Which is still up for debate and there are already natural barriers and it doesn’t have to be a border to border wall. And they may figure other ways to find funding.
GovExec also notes excepted employees can request leave and get backpaid when everyting reopens or they can request approved leave periods of absence that places them in furlough and also get retroactive backpay and not have it come off their normal leave balances when reopened. Circumstances were causing many workers to be in an uproar both TSA and in working in the federal penitentiary about not being able to take leave, not being able to get paid, and not being able to get unemployment or sue, or have any say or take another job. Basically a really tough situation.
The current news says that the shutdown should end hopefully by today and allow employees at least all their pay and catch a breath above water to be made in full.
They are calling for fed employee wages to be paid at the earliest date possible “regardless of scheduled pay dates” and so it causes no impact to benefits and doesn’t cause additional tax issues from lump-sum withdrawals from TSP / 401k retirements. There is also talks of a 2.6 percent increase for fed employees in the works.
Update: 10:40PM 1/26/2019
The Pres has signed the legislation to reopen the gov for three weeks until February 15, 2019 and so at least many fed workers will get back pay and be able to get back to work for the time being and catch up on work that went unprocessed from December 22, 2019. At this time we don’t know if there is going to be another shutdown in 3 weeks if discussions over border security break down again. We will see in a few weeks. In the interim we will report on a as needed basis regarding any followups and updates to benefits and restoration of functions. Currently OPM which is the Office of Personnel Management has issued a notice that all agencies are reopen and tax agencies are also reopen. So for those that had not needed to go to work will most likely report on Monday or their next scheduled tour of duty.
Probably the last update for now: 1:12 PM 01/27/2019
Here is a post from the personnel website for fed employees.
Apparently many things are now open and we checked quite a few sites for the status of their business operation and many are being told to report back to work for business as usual.
So here’s the winners and losers round up:
Fed Employees: Mixed but mostly lost wages, time and patience even with back pay to come next week.
Pres: Lost for now, no wall, big hit to reputation and getting talked about in the news and social media.
Speaker of the House & House in Congress: Major win for them.
The people of the country: Likely a loss because of the loss in productivity, coverage all over the news and slow down in air travel and getting paid.
The news media: Big win because of large interest story
Other countries: Big win cause they don’t have to deal with this stuff but also a loss because it may have had a small impact on the economy.