Much of the federal government is getting close to shutting down October 1, as Congress struggles to pass a stopgap funding deal – and on Wednesday, with just three days to go, many federal workers and agencies were bracing for impact. The House and Senate have until the end of the day on Saturday, September 30, to pass a spending deal. Scarce progress has been made so far and there’s so little time left, a shutdown is being seen as almost inevitable, notes WJLA-TV in Washington, D.C.
In anticipation of that, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has advised federal agencies to review and update their shutdown plans. OMB will tell agencies to enact those plans, including notifying employees whether they have been furloughed or should continue to report to work on October 1, the start of the new fiscal year.
OMB also shared a draft communication template with agencies that will need to notify employees of the status of appropriations. These preparations come as the House and Senate are still far from reaching an agreement on fiscal 2024 spending levels.
A shutdown would mean federal agencies, including the FCC and NTIA, can’t operate, except for emergency situations.
The FCC and NTIA have been through this before, Inside Towers reported. Generally all activities stop — other than “those immediately necessary for the protection of life or property,” according to Federal News Network. That means furloughed staffers can’t answer their phone or respond to email messages, nor travel or attend meetings for work. In the case of the FCC, licensing services for example — including wireless, wireline and broadcast — stop.
As many as four million workers nationwide could lose pay as a result of a shutdown — about half of whom are military troops and personnel. While essential workers would remain on the job without pay, others would be furloughed. All government employees would get back pay once the shutdown ends; federal contractors who are impacted by the shutdown would not, reports WJLA-TV.
By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief