Tens of thousands more federal employees called back to work during shutdown
ABC NEWS – As the longest-ever government shutdown reached Day 27 Thursday, the number of federal employees working without pay rose to 450,000 and that number could top half a million in the coming days, as the Trump administration continues to recall tens of thousands of workers after almost four weeks of shuttered doors at vital agencies.
The negative impact on the U.S. economy, which the White House now says will be double its original projections, is already affecting places like Colorado, where craft breweries are awaiting government approval on beers, and businesses such as private contracting firms, some of which are now without work because they were on projects with government agencies. Unlike furloughed federal workers, private contractors aren’t guaranteed any back-pay.
The effect on contractors, Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Kevin Hassett said Tuesday, was one reason the White House upped its new estimate of the shutdown’s cost.
On Wednesday, President Donald Trump signed a bill requiring back-pay for furloughed federal workers and those called in during the shutdown.
There are no high-level talks between the president and Congressional leadership planned for Thursday. The impasse over the president’s demand for billions for his proposed border wall, which Democrats reject, continues.
Here’s a look at the effects.
The latest numbers
800,000 federal workers are going without pay during the shutdown. Some 450,000 are now required to report to work, and tens of thousands more will be returning after recent announcements from the Trump administration.
At the IRS, 36,000 employees were asked to return to deal with tax season, About 1,700 FAA aviation safety inspectors were told to return after the agency ran preliminary safety tests and about 2,500 employees at the Agriculture Department will briefly return to process farm loans.
Why don’t they strike? Federal employees are prohibited from doing so and can get fired if they don’t show up. What’s more, many federal employees like their jobs and think the work they do is important. But they can call in sick, which appears to be the tactic by many TSA workers. Agency officials there told ABC News they think the sickouts aren’t because of illness or politics, but dealing with financial hardship.
President Donald Trump signs bill guaranteeing back-pay
On Wednesday, in a closed-press event at the White House, the president signed the “Government Employee Fair Treatment Act of 2019,” requiring “the compensation of government employees for wages lost, work performed, or leave used during a lapse in appropriations that begins on or after December 22, 2018.”
The bill also allows “excepted employees” to use leave during the shutdown.
TSA chief: Financial hardships from shutdown prompting absences at major airports
The head of the Transportation Security Administration acknowledged to his staff on Wednesday that frontline officers are increasingly calling out of work due to financial hardship caused by the government shutdown, spokesperson Michael Bilello told ABC News.
The agency, tasked with securing the nation’s aviation system, reported an unscheduled absence rate of 6.1 percent of the workforce for Tuesday, up from 3.7 percent on the same day last year. Call-outs peaked on Sunday at 7.7 percent compared to 3.2 percent the same day last year.
Pelosi suggests to Trump that State of the Union address be delayed until government reopens
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has suggested to President Donald Trump that his State of the Union address, scheduled for later this month, be delayed because of the partial government shutdown.
“Sadly, given the security concerns and unless government re-opens this week, I suggest that we work together to determine another suitable date after government has re-opened for this address or for you to consider delivering your State of the Union address in writing to the Congress on January 29th,” Pelosi wrote.
Republicans and Cabinet members pushed back. The White House has not yet responded.
This decision makes clear what we already know: Democrats are only interested in obstructing @realDonaldTrump, not governing.
— Steve Scalise (@SteveScalise) January 16, 2019
The Department of Homeland Security and the US Secret Service are fully prepared to support and secure the State of the Union. We thank the Service for their mission focus and dedication and for all they do each day to secure our homeland.
— Sec. Kirstjen Nielsen (@SecNielsen) January 16, 2019