Watching Congress the last few days leading up to September 30 is like watching a political thriller with a bad plot and potentially bad results. This year, they narrowly escaped a government shutdown and its disastrous consequences the country faced in 2013. With less than 72 hours left before the lights go off, Congress Wednesday night passed a short-term funding bill to keep the government running — only until December 9.
"Averting a government shutdown with only days to spare is no reason to celebrate."
AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr.
"Averting a government shutdown with only days to spare is no reason to celebrate," said AFGE President J. David Cox Sr. "Congress has merely kicked the can down the road for another 10 weeks, when we will face yet another budget showdown."
Indeed, the short-term funding bill, known as Continuing Resolutions, would fund government agencies until December 9. After that, Congress will need to come up with another spending bill again to prevent a shutdown. Not the most effective way to govern.
What's in the Continuing Resolution?
The biggest issue that delayed the Wednesday passage of the CR has been resolved. House lawmakers who previously refused to help the 100,000 people in Flint who have been suffering from lead-contaminated drinking water finally came around.
The House approved an amendment to provide $170 million to help Flint residents, including kids and the elderly. The amendment was included in a water infrastructure bill pending in Congress. The Senate has already passed its version that provides $220 million for Flint and other cities.
The CR would fund government agencies at the current funding levels regardless of new needs and workload. It would also provide $1.1 billion to fight the Zika virus and $500 million for Louisiana and other states facing natural disasters.
What about Your Pay Raise?
President Obama requested a 1.6 percent pay raise in 2017 for both military personnel and civilian employees. If Congress does nothing, federal employees will likely get that amount. Members of Congress have the final say on your pay. So your 1.6 percent raise is still up in the air.
Could the Government Shutdown in December?
It's unlikely the government will shutdown before a new Congress or administration is in place on January 20, 2017. However, a Holiday Season shutdown is not unprecedented. Many seasoned federal employees remember the less than festive crunch they felt during the 1995 shutdown that lasted from December 15 to January 6, 1996.
One thing is guaranteed: When Congress comes back into the lame duck session on November 14, they will have a lot of work to do and not a lot of time to do it. If you can count on this Congress for anything, it's for them to wait until the last minute to get their work done.
Stay tuned for more information on government funding. Visit www.afge.org for news and updates on other key issues important to federal employees.
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