January 23, 2019: Months’ Long Furlough??!

I read in the Washington Post that the White House Acting Chief of Staff (and OMB Director) Mick Mulvaney is asking Agencies to list impacts in their mission that would result from a shutdown that lasts into March and April. Certainly, the news is not encouraging for a speedy resolution. Below is an excerpt.

Mulvaney wants the list no later than Friday, these people said, and it’s the firmest evidence to date that the White House is preparing for a lengthy funding lapse that could have snowballing consequences for the economy and government services.

The request is the first known inquiry from a top White House official seeking information about the spreading impact of the shutdown, which has entered its fifth week and is the longest in U.S. history. So far, top White House officials have been particularly focused on lengthening wait times at airport security, but not the sprawling interruption of programs elsewhere in the government.

The people spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to disclose Mulvaney’s demand.

The shutdown has already caused the federal government to stop paying 800,000 employees, but the impact is expected to become exponentially broader in the coming weeks. The federal court system is likely to halt major operations after February 1, and the Department of Agriculture does not have funding to pay food stamp benefits in March to roughly 40 million people.

The White House also faces a backlash from many federal workers, who face missing a second consecutive paycheck in the coming days. Some workers have balked at continuing without being paid, and their unions are filing legal action against the administration.

And there were new signs on Wednesday that federal agencies are still trying to comprehend the scope of their growing problems. The U.S. General Services Administration, an agency that manages many of the government’s leases and contracts, notified a number of departments that it doesn’t have a plan for how it can pay utility and lease payments in February if the shutdown persists.

Can the country sustain a shutdown lasting several months? Frankly, this is terrifying to me. Personally, I could ride out a couple more months’ shutdown, but what would it mean to my community, my country, to have 800,000 people (plus contractors) not getting paid and not providing essential services?

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