WASHINGTON – Congress’s passage of a short-term budget extension yesterday keeps the federal government open until Dec. 22, preventing a government shutdown that would have furloughed more than 850,000 working people who serve the American public.
The American Federation of Government Employees, which represents more than 700,000 workers in the federal government and the District of Columbia, hailed the move to keep the government open, but expressed concern about a potential shutdown happening in just a few weeks’ time.
“Thank you to everyone who worked tirelessly to keep the government open,” AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. said. “Failing to fund the government’s operations is beyond unacceptable; it is completely avoidable and a shameful waste of taxpayer dollars. Federal employees want to go to work. They believe in their mission and want to provide quality services to the American people. And now thanks to this budget agreement, they can.”
Had the government been forced to shut down, a large portion of the civilian workforce – around 850,000 employees – would have been furloughed, while the remainder would have been forced to come to work without pay. The impact on federal workers, many of whom live paycheck to paycheck, would have been severe; but the entire economy would have suffered as well. The 2013 shutdown took $24 billion out of the U.S. economy and reduced projected fourth-quarter GDP growth from 3 percent to 2.4 percent.
“Failing to fund the government’s operations has real-world implications for everyone in this country,” Cox said. “Federal employees ensure the safety and security of the public at home and abroad, research cures for deadly diseases, keep our air, water, and food safe for consumption, and process benefits for countless seniors, veterans, and disabled Americans every day. Wondering when or if they will get paid, and how they will pay their bills during a prolonged shutdown, is a distraction they don’t need. And quite frankly, it’s one we as a nation cannot afford.
“While we are pleased that the government will be open Monday, and that our members can continue to earn a paycheck, we are still concerned about a shutdown happening in the near future. We hope that Congress and the administration can come to a real deal soon, and stop kicking the can down the road.”