Shutdown Clock: 10 Days and Ticking

Earlier this month President Obama said it was “irresponsible” for Congress to continue funding government activities in 2-week installments. The stopgap spending authorities are known as Continuing Resolutions, or CRs in Washingtonspeak.

Congress, in a statesman-like move worthy of Daniel Webster and Henry Clay, responded to his criticism of government in short order. It approved a CR with a 3-week lifespan! No more of that 2-week suspense stuff!!! The current 3-week baby expires April 8. It is the 6th stopgap funding measure approved for the 2011 fiscal year that ends Sept. 30, 2011.

Insiders say that hearts on both sides of the political divide have hardened during the just concluded 10-day congressional spring break. Many say we are closer than ever to a possible government shutdown. If that happens many federal workers will be sent home. Without pay. It has happened before. For a look at the House/Senate time and attendance record, click here.

Members of Congress and their staffs will continue on the job, and on the federal payroll during any shutdown. That applies whether they are hard at work here, or on a fact-finding trip to Paris or Hong Kong.


The last big shutdown, the winter of 1995-96, lasted for 21 days. Employees eventually got paid. But that is not guaranteed this time. For a quickie history of last shutdown, and a checklist of how it would work, click here.

So what happens if it happens again? What can you do to be prepared (it is a little late to assemble 6-months worth of cash between now and April 9th) for S-day and beyond.

We’ve got a trifectia of experts standing by to help you. They’ll be available today at 10 a.m. on our Your Turn with Mike Causey radio show. Federal Times editor Steve Watkins and senior writer Steve Losey will bring us up to speed on the shutdown potential and what’s happening governmentwide. Financial planner Arthur Stein talks about what you should consider doing if there is a shutdown. For worried executives, Carol Bonosaro president of the Senior Executives Association talks about pay givebacks for some members of the SES.

You can listen to the show on your computer if you click here at 10 a.m. EDT or, in the Washington area, tune in 1500 AM. You can also call in at 202.465.3081 or e-mail your question to me at Should be a very informative show.

VA Labor Contract

The Department of Veterans Affairs and the American Federation of Government Employees have signed a new contract (last one was in 1997) with a heavy emphasis on work-life issues such as scheduling, health and safety and expanded teleworking opportunities. VA is the third largest federal agency and the new agreement covers 200,000 bargaining units. AFGE is the largest of the nonpostal federal unions.

To reach me:

Nearly Useless Factoid
by Suzanne Kubota

One of the two styles of Royal Wedding cakes will be a fruitcake, reports and will contain dried fruit, sultanas, nuts, cherries, orange peel and lemon, and cognac. Three cakes have been started “as they require four weeks of maturation.”


Budget deal must come by the end of the week
The specter of at least a partial government shutdown looms once again. Congress has returned to Washington with Democrats and Republicans as far apart on spending priorities as ever.

Federal furlough FAQ
As talk of a shutdown heats up (again), check out answers to your most commonly asked shutdown questions.