Earlier this week, we published an article entitled "Rancor Increases Over Spending As Congress Prepares to Leave Town." They are still in session as of this writing but a budget has not yet been passed.
In conjunction with the article, we asked readers several questions. Should Congress adjourn before passing a spending bill for fiscal year 2008? Do you think there will be a government shutdown in your future? And, finally, what do you think will happen with the federal pay raise in the midst of the ongoing dispute?
It would be an understatement to say that people are irritated or upset over the lack of a budget. That is not surprising since the ability of agencies to accomplish their missions is impacted by the lack of a budget. But, apparently more important to many readers, is the fact that the 2008 federal employee pay raise is tied up in the process as well. The most common comment about the raise is various iterations of "it isn’t big enough." Many readers also commented that Congress should be under a pay for performance plan and hold them in Washington until a budget has been passed.
92% of readers who responded indicated that Congress should not leave town before a budget bill has been passed. 58% do not think there will be a government shutdown although 26% think that will happen. 47% of readers think that the average pay raise for federal employees in 2008 will be 3% and 44% think the average pay raise that is finally approved will be 3.5%.
Here is a quick summary of the poll results that we ran over the past two days:
Response Summary for Congress, The Budget and the Christmas Break
|1. Should Congress adjourn for its Christmas break before a budget bill for fiscal year 2008 has passed?||Total Responses||Percentage||Grand Total|
|2. Do you think there will be a government shutdown as a result of this year’s budget dispute?||Total Responses||Percentage||Grand Total|
|3. What is the most likely amount to be approved for the 2008 federal GS pay raise?||Total Responses||Percentage||Grand Total|
|3% average pay raise as proposed by the President||501||47%||1075|
|3.5% average pay raise as preferred by Congress||474||44%||1075|
Here is a small sample of the hundreds of comments from readers that reflect the most common responses to this survey.
An employee with the Minerals Management Service in New Orleans wrote: "Politicians need to be held accountable. The Federal budget is an annual duty, not something that is unexpected. I doubt that my bosses would let me go on vacation when something so critical is unresolved!!!"
A management analyst with the Army in Savannah, GA commented: "Even thinking about a shutdown is crazy. Congress will continue to get paid while federal employees will go home. Someone needs to do their job. By this even being talked about federal employees will spend less at Christmas and thus slowing the economy and may create a recession."
A management analyst with IHS in Rockville, MD fumed: "Ok, you all wanted to be in charge of Congress and you are. Do something besides criticize the current administration because that keeps you from doing your job. Pass a budget – one of your major duties; pass the 3.5% Fed pay raise – another important duty that impacts the lives of Feds; and perform as if you worked in the private sector and might get fired if you don’t."
A visual information specialist with the Army in Columbus, GA expressed his beliefs this way: "There should be no hint of a government shut down. Our elected officials have an obligation to get a budget passed. If they can not get it done, they need to keep working at it until it is done. Don’t even think about adjourning for a Christmas break until it is done."
A security specialist with the Army in Anniston, AL commented: "Why shouldn’t they make a decision before Christmas? They do not have to worry about getting their big fat check, but we are going to have to worry all during Christmas about if we will have a job or not."
A management analyst with HHS in Rockville, MD is disgusted: "It is unconscionable that Congress holds Gov’t employess hostage while they play politics. They continue to do more harm to the country’s dedicated (for the most part) employees than good for anyone. Phooey! "
An employee with USDA in North Dakota thinks term limits are a good idea: "This Congress has not been able to pass a budget in the past two years. If this is not a good reason to have term limitations and start of a third party what is?"
A financial specialist with the Navy in Crane, IN had this thought: "They need to get together and get that budget done and signed. The pay raise should be at least 3.5. American’s are feeling the pinch that our country is in. Most can hardly make it, therefore they need it to just get by. With what our Government officials make, they can at least give the raise. A lot of them that can’t hardly make it have children and that makes it so much harder. Be Kind and concerned. We need you to pass the pay raise. Actually, 4% would help even more."
An IT specialist with the VA in St. Louis threw out this remark: "Congress is the only Government agency that can do nothing and claim that something was accomplished as a result! It would be disingenious to say that the pay raise is not important to me. However, the AMT issue is another critical piece of legislation that needs to be addressed. The AMT should be indexed to inflation/cost of living… problem solved!"
A business analyst with DoD in Columbus, GA thinks more time off with pay doesn’t make financial sense: "It was nice but stupid to give us another free day off. It would be corrupt and disingenous of Congress to do so."
A program analyst with the Department of Labor in Denver likens Congress to the "Big House": No vacations until the work is done…period! That’s the way it works in the trenches, and that’s the way it should work in the big house!"
A project manager with HUD in San Antonio, TX is upset to the point of name-calling: "Why should they be allowed to recess when they have not been doing their jobs? I am fed up with these spoiled, pampered, megalomanic, dilettantes."
A support services supervisor with the Forest Service in California thinks the situation is embarrassing: "I’m far from standing alone when I say that Congress should not be allowed to leave for Christmas before they finish their job. Their arrogant attitudes have gone far enough…if they were forced to meet their deadline as we are for the Forest Service on meeting their mandates, they would get the job done. It’s an embarrassment for the US… "
An audio visual engineer with the Army at Ft. Lee, VA wrote: "If the Congress were concerned about the best interest of the Nation and not their petty infighting over personal political positioning we would all be better served. . . .Career politicians are the problem now and will always be…"
A human resources specialist with BLM in Lakewood, Colorado expressed his concerns this way: "I’m going to vote AGAINST every incumbent in office this year."
A supervisor with TACOM in Warren, MI had this thought: "Congress should STAY in DC and do the job they were paid to do. no vacation until the work is DONE. Shame on all of you congressmen, for not focusing on what is needed for this nation! SHAME ON ALL OF YOU."
Several people took a position for or against each political party. This Dept. of Interior employee in St. George, Utah had this perspective: "I don’t think the Dems should cave on this. The administration and GOP congressionals are bluffing and I don’t believe public opinion will have the long-term effect it did last time the government shut down. Congress is already not very popular."
A contract specialist with DLA in Richmond, VA had another view: "This is simply another attempt by the Democrats to try to shipwreck this President and His Administration in their attempt to lead this Country into Victory in fighting and winning the war in Iraq against terrorists. The Democrats have no love for this Country and have so invested in our defeat in Iraq that they are drunk with that ambition. If one takes the time to look and listen to what the Democrats are saying, they would find that they only point out the bad things about America (and most of those are not factural)! They should be ashamed and I suggest if they hate America so much, then please go live in a socialist country and let America alone to fight for the freedom we so enjoy in the Country! "
A retired NASA employee from Huntsville, AL expressed this thought and remembrance: "It is unconscionable that Congress would go off on a month’s vacation–on top of the 2 weeks they took for Thanksgiving–and not fund our troops in the field or fund the rest of government. This is their basic function. Yes, there are issues with the White House and between the parties, but politics is the system for compromising on issues. Unfortunately, it appears our political system is flat broken. I thought the Republican-controlled Congress was "do nothing," until I now witness the "Democrat-controlled" Congress. Remember when all of them stood on the Capitol steps, holding hands, and singing "God Bless America?" What happened to that spirit of unity against our enemies?"
This one-of-a-kind comment came from a visitor information specialist with the Forest Service in Granby, CO: "I don’t think any of us should get a raise in 2008 that includes congress & the prez too! "
And one of the most succinct comments came from an auditor who works for DoD in Maryland: "Let’s hear it for Congress!! Boooooooooooooooooo!!"
Our thanks to all readers who took the time to vote in this survey and a special thanks to those who sent in their written comments as well.