Federal workers set to miss Friday payday

Federal workers set to miss Friday payday

US Capitol east side, Photo by Martin Falbisoner
US Capitol east side, Photo by Martin Falbisoner

WASHINGTON — The federal workers affected by the partial government shutdown will not be paid on Friday if funding is not restored by Tuesday at midnight, impacting approximately 800,000 employees.

The shutdown entered its 16th day Tuesday and a politically feasible solution to reopen 25 percent of the government does not appear to be on the horizon.

At the heart of the issue is a dispute over funding for a border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, a proposal that President Donald Trump has demanded $5.6 billion for but Democrats have long rejected.

In their counter proposal, Democrats initially offered $1.3 billion for border security, a sum the White House has balked at.

Negotiations stretched into last weekend, but ended with little signs of optimism.

When pressed Sunday on the difficulties the shutdown poses for federal workers, Trump expressed confidence that “the people that are on the receiving end will make adjustment.”

“They always do,” Trump said. “People understand exactly what’s going on. But many of those people that won’t be receiving a paycheck, many of those people agree 100 percent with what I’m doing.”

It is unclear what, if anything, the president was citing when he claimed that federal workers support the shutdown or are particularly eager for a border wall.

In a statement Tuesday, the president of the American Federation of Government Employees, J. David Cox Sr., said the workers represented by his union were eager to see things go back to normal.

“Federal employees want to go back to work,” Cox said. “They believe in their mission and want to provide quality services to the American people.”

When asked Monday about Friday’s payday issues, Vice President Mike Pence, who has been leading working group discussions, largely demurred, telling reporters that he is hopeful for a fix but that Democrats need to be willing to negotiate.

According to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), affected federal workers should have received their last check on Jan. 3.

Employees furloughed in the process will receive backpay once the shutdown ends.

House Democrats have passed a series of bills aimed at reopening the government, continuing resolutions that were supported by the previous Senate before the new Congressional session went into effect earlier this month.

Trump, however, has threatened to veto any stopgap measures and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has promised to not move forward with anything that doesn’t have White House support.

The president is expected to deliver two sets of televised remarks to the nation this month: a prime-time speech from the Oval Office this Tuesday and the annual State of the Union address on Jan. 29.

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