When government shuts down, what will happen to government?

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With the government set to run out of money after April 8th, the Committee on House Administration is providing guidance to legislative offices detailing what to expect and internal procedures.

The guidance explains that only essential employees will continue in their current jobs, until funding is restored. Under House rules, each Member and Committee Office will decide who are “essential” and who will be “furloughed,” or placed on unpaid, non-disciplinary leave.

For those “essentials” who remain on staff, the Committee warns that not all payment will be on time.

“An employee will not be paid for work done during a lapse in appropriations until a subsequent funding authority is in place. Historically, when the government’s funding has lapsed, the subsequent spending authority…has provided for retroactive payment to all employees (whether furloughed or not),” they explain. “This, however, is not guaranteed.”

Furloughed employees are prohibited to volunteer their time for official duties as it violates House rules and the Anti-Deficiency Act. The guidance explains that this rule is especially stringent.

“[A]n employing office may not communicate with a furloughed employee about official duties and the furloughed employee may not perform official duties by email or telephone,” the Guidance reads. “To ensure compliance with this rule, employing offices may require furloughed employees to turn in their blackberries, laptops, and cell phones and should require furloughed employees to set an ‘out of office’ message on their email accounts.”

Staffers, however, are allowed to volunteer to be furloughed.

Security personnel and those considered to be involved with “the safety of human life” will remain on staff regardless of the funding situation.

Likely most pertinent to those not receiving a paycheck from the government, is the fact that many public tourist attractions will close. Those of you hoping to visit the Cherry Blossoms this spring, will be wise to diversify your plans as the Capitol Visitor Center, House Gift Shop, Botanic Gardens and other areas will be closed.

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