Government Shutdown Begins

By on October 1, 2013 in News, Pay & Benefits

A Monday night ping pong match in which the House and Senate bounced continuing resolutions back and forth to each other ultimately ended in a stalemate with no agreement and both parties blaming each other for the situation. With a lack of a continuing resolution to fund the government, a shutdown has officially ensued.

The hang up has largely been over Obamacare with Republicans wanting to defund or delay portions of the law. The Senate is opposed to doing this, hence the stalemate.

The government will remain shutdown until Congress passes a bill to fund the government and the president signs it into law. When this could happen is unknown at this point.

Federal employees are undoubtedly wondering, “What does this mean for me?” Here are some of the facts as to how a shutdown relates to the federal workforce:

  • OMB director Sylvia Burwell has sent a memo directing agencies to begin shutdown operations.
  • Members of the military will get paid thanks to legislation passed by Congress that the president has signed into law.
  • Civilian federal workers who are considered “essential” will continue to work as usual, but without pay. Once funding for the government is restored, they will get retroactive pay.
  • “Non-essential” federal workers will be furloughed without pay. Federal employee unions have said they will fight to get back pay for these federal workers, but there is a strong sentiment that federal workers who are considered to be “non-essential” will not get paid retroactively during this shutdown even though they did in the 1996 shutdown.
  • Most furloughed federal workers are supposed to be out of their offices within four hours of the start of business Tuesday. Workers on furlough will be barred from accessing their work e-mail accounts, according to the Office of Personnel Management. Employees are also under strict orders to not work once they get home, meaning no checking email, using cell phones, or laptop computers. Managers are encouraging employees to leave government issued phones and laptops at a secure place in the office for this reason.
  • Employees will receive an official email Tuesday explaining whether or not they are considered “essential” or will furloughed. It will include appeal rights and a form to use for seeking unemployment insurance. Depending on where they live, some employees may be eligible for unemployment. Some states require a one-week waiting period before applying, while others allow immediately applying.
  • If the shutdown continues, all employees can expect to be paid on schedule on Oct. 15, 2013, for hours worked from Sept. 22 through Sept. 30.
  • What government services are considered essential? Federal courts, passports, unemployment checks, Social Security, Medicare, air travel, food stamps, mail delivery, US embassies, the military, and annuity payments for federal retirees are some services that won’t be going away. The Washington Post has a detailed list of the impacts a shutdown will have on various federal agencies and services.
  • Estimates are that approximately 800,000 federal employees will be furloughed by the shutdown. About 1.4 million active-duty military personnel, some reservists and about 1.3 million civilian federal employees will continue to report to work. The majority of users said in a recent survey that they would be furloughed.

OPM has provided information for federal workers on a shutdown furlough. For more on this, see Government Shutdown: Will Federal Retirees Contiue to Receive Annunity Payments? and What Happens to Your Pay and Benefits in a Shutdown?.

© 2016 Ian Smith. All rights reserved. This article may not be reproduced without express written consent from Ian Smith.

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of He enjoys writing about current topics that affect the federal workforce. Ian also has a background in web development and does the technical work for the web site and its sibling sites.

86 Replies

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  1. TIg says:

    This is how screwd up our Govt is. i work at a DLA site. Or command is allowing employees Gym Time. So you have hundreds of people getting paid to go work out, as DOD people are getting Furloughed. Talk about the Union and Management being so stupid. At this point i wish they close all DOD down.

    • Fed_Peasant says:

      They should. Shut all of the federal government down, to include White House staff, ALL congressional staff, military personnel & contractors in particular. Quit the stupid half steps & favoritism. DOD is hiring more contractors & keeping in quiet, per a recent report. “DoD to award
      contracts throughout shutdown, but won’t announce them”

  2. TimbreTim says:

    Are you a Federal worker in an “excepted” position. Felling ill at work? Chest pain with diaphoresis? Because you’ll be furloughed out if you need to use sick leave to see a Doctor or an Emergency Room. “Better Call Saul!” and start prepping for a lawsuit, or at least double-checking the accuracy of your “Last Will & Testament.

  3. mandinka says:

    This is ALLLLLL Obama’s doing. He had the gall to say that he would not negotiate over funding the govt or raising the debt ceiling. He will soon realize that even though he thinks he is he’s not a dictator

  4. Guest says:

    If this truely weren’t so sad and scarey… it would be a JOKE! A democratic elected government that can’t govern…

    • Rambo1957 says:

      What is so scary? Non-essential services not rendered. This is as scary as the sequester turned out to be. The government is not the be all, end all. I know some Feds are nervous, angry or scared. I’m sorry for that. What I am not sorry for are these circumstances that show that the sky will not fall if the government cuts back. I read where there has been 17 previous shutdowns. I bet few can recall most, if not all of them. None had any historic effects.

      • wayne_5555 says:

        not unless you happen to be one of the 800,000 people who will not be getting a paycheck.

  5. soon to retire says:

    For those of you who believe there is some requirement to pay back pay for a furlough, let’s hope it works out. I am with DOD and have already lost six paid days this year and there is absolutely NO discussion of back pay.

    • Fed_Peasant says:

      Stand-by pay should be explored fro MSPB, litigation, & grievances. The rules are such, that furloughed employees must watch the news & wait for confirmation, or a request to return to work. That is defacto telephone stand-by & a pay category covered by many labor contracts. Even if pay is restored for 8 hours per day, the other 16 should be pursued.

  6. John says:

    Never fear. What we have is a Republican clown show that will be short-lived. By this time next week, everyone will be back to work.

  7. a former public servant says:

    I’m retired, but worked during the last shutdown. As manager, fortunately in a town of 14,000, I called all the banks and grocery stores and asked the managers to increase the grace period for mortgage payments and let employees purchase food with IOU’s. We provided a list of names of the employees involved.

    It cost the American people more money to shut down the government. If the Congress is really interested in reducing spending, they need to pass a budget or CR and stop the shutdown. And what about representing the people instead of their own party agenda?

  8. Lena Parker says:

    I am a federal employee of 27 years and have never seen anything like this situation. I feel like the senate
    and congress are playing a political game without regard to the people who are loosing their pay!! Our leaders do not care any more. I think they should all give up their pay for as long as we are on a furlough!! I am so dissappointed in our countries leaders!!?? They need to feel what we all are going
    through. What do I tell the mortgage company or how do I pay the electric, water, gas bills. How do I
    continue to help take care of my grandchildren??

  9. Lights out says:

    I was sent home today. I work for the SSA quality office. I have 62 disability claims on my caseload that have been approved and are waiting for a quality review before they get put on disability benefits. We have about 50 people in our office with the same case load. There are 11 other offices in the nation. You do the math. Now these cases just sit and collect dust. So yeah, social security checks will still go out while the government is closed, just not to these people.

    • wombat1951 says:

      SSDI is a program overdue to be completely reformed.

    • mandinka says:

      The fact that you are SITTING on 62 claims shows what is wrong with the federal govt

    • NoHonorInCongress says:

      I fully understand your situation. The media and the clueless jump on the “non-essential” bandwagon and rarely let facts get in the way of feelings or an opportunity to vent baseless opinions broadly about all federal employees. Like you, my reality is that a critical mission will remain undone.

      Over 80 criminal investigators were furloughed at one agency yesterday. Our investigations are now stalled, leads to witnesses or evidence will get stale, and it will be much harder to bring some criminals to justice. The fraudsters we investigate are cheering the shutdown because they are now free to perpetrate more frauds which often cost the taxpayers millions.

      The lack of ethics, honor and integrity in Congress, Democrats and Republicans, created this political stunt which will greatly impact agency missions such as ours as well as have long term impact on employee morale and motivation. I am equally disappointed in the lack of leadership shown by our executives who elected to sacrifice a law enforcement mission rather than take
      a stand for the mission and our employees.

      I have served proudly for more than 36 years of combined military and law enforcement service and have never experienced such immature behavior as we now see in our country’s “leaders”. Firmly anti-incumbent.

  10. fed_united says:

    This is stupid, why government employee had to pay all those price, ironically government contractor can still get paid which is radicious. In the past several years, why government spent so much money to save wall street, the whole ecomoic is caused by greedy wall street, government employee already had pay freeze in the last three years, furlough in the last few month, enough is enough.At the same time, the contractor who does the same job in our team, still get pay raise 5% each year, plus they are paid 25% more than federal employee already. Now nobody wants to work for ferderal, pay is less and benefits is worse than before.
    We federal government employee should united together and fight for out rights and benefits.

  11. Melanie says:

    I still have to work as mission essential so why should the ones who are non-essential furloughs get a
    paid vacation. If I want to take leave during this time it is classified as “leave without pay”!!
    Will I get paid for that when the government “opens up”?? Why are the Congress and Senate and Executive branch still getting paid while we are not especially the ones who have to work!!!!
    I think government officials need to start compromising including the President and agree on some budget
    or a continuance and open up the government again because this is NOT FUNNY and all who continue this debacle will be remembered at the next election – party and individuals!!

    • theinnerring says:

      yes, you will get paid when funds are appropriated or there is a CR. in 95/96 anyone who had used leave during the shutdown (and therefore was actually furloughed) had their leave restored if i remember correctly. backpay for furloughed employees may or may not happen, it depends on congress.

      • Rambo1957 says:

        You are right. Paid vacations with no time used. Seems like only yesterday. We all got notices that leave was cancelled. Many ignored the notices and made out like bandits.

    • Hank says:

      I was mission essential and worked the last time we were furloughed for 28 days in the 1995-1996 timeframe and yes, they did get paid, now they consider my job non-essential this time so I should not get paid when you got paid the last time that you were furloughed.

    • DODproud says:

      What “non-essential” furloughs get a paid vacation, Melanie? I am furloughed right now and I doubt if I will get paid retroactively. I would rather be working as I had enough furlough Fridays this past summer. I worked 4 hours this morning and had take the rest of the day/week off and leave work. It was suggested that I take signed “lay off” paperwork and go apply for unemployment benefits by my supervisor who also had her walking papers in hand.
      I will remember who voted for what on this budget and they will be not my vote.

    • Justin Case says:

      The article says that ““Non-essential” federal workers will be furloughed without pay”. They do not get a paid vacation.

    • Brooklyn says:

      You should be taking your frustration out on the egotistical, greedy-hard hearted politicians that created this mess, not your co-workers who have absolutely no control over this stupidity where they are forced on furlough! Would you rather trade places with them and get no salary at all?
      I’m pretty sure they would rather be working to support their family rather trying to figure out HOW they are going to support their families with no salaries. Have a heart! The shoe could have been on YOUR foot! Count your blessings…. yes it’s a blessing to have a job that pays you.
      Don’t like it….then Quit! Shish, another selfish ungrateful American!

    • Rainy098 says:

      I wonder what compromise means to you Melanie. To me, it means each side gives up something they want.

      What should each side give up? Should one side give up guns? How about giving up corporate welfare? I’d like to know what you think each side should give up.

    • AnotherGuessed says:

      The time for compromise is when the law is being made. What is happening here is nothing short of terrorism.

    • LadyGuest says:

      Tell you what, Melanie, I’d be happy to trade places with you during this government shutdown. I will work and get a guaranteed paycheck, you can sit home furloughed for God knows how long and take a chance on getting retroactive pay (which I don’t believe will be forthcoming). Ever hear the saying “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”?

  12. Steve Neal says:

    Totally agree with the results of what just happened, but NOT the way the game was played or who’s getting the finger now. Yes, all but the essential parts of our gov’t (and congress) were shut down last night, and that is a good first step in the right direction. Since we are indeed stuck with congress at work today and throughout this ordeal, we might as well ask them to put forth incremental budget approvals for each closed branch, until it is all back open again. That is the very least they could do…

    Then, as dummycrats have been promising (on C-SPAN) all week long, the actual time will then have arrived to “discuss” the current healthcare debacle (yes, like millions of others, I was totally unable to log-in or “chat” for ACA insurance today, and expect every ACA quote to dwarf my current TriCare Prime rates for the same coverage) and compromise to delay the rest of ACA like its “owner” declared half of it inapplicable and its authors have weaseled themselves out of the other half… Hypocrites all!!

  13. wombat1951 says:

    First of all…the Federal Government has NOT “shut down”. Very large parts of it are functioning as usual, and will continue to do so.

    Secondly…with Obama and Reid in a “no negotiation at all” frame of mind, this could go on for some time.

    And like the sequester — which Obama predicted would be “devastating” and was, in fact, barely noticed, this partial “shutdown” will not be noticed by that many Americans — except on TV where the leftist media will shout from the rooftops how the world is ending and it’s all the GOPs fault 🙂

    • Soonershooter says:

      Most of the peeps in my area are working and not much has changed, some were furloughes but not a lot…FREEEEEEEEBIIIRDDD

    • mandinka says:

      82% of the govt is still running

    • wayne_5555 says:

      Barely noticed…? Not if you are doing long range planning for acquisition, maintenance and upkeep of our military. Not if you were among those who had their paychecks cut by 25% due to furloughs. But I know … it is all about you.

      • wombat1951 says:

        Obama’s sequester — which he and the Left were shouting from the rooftops would devastate the economy and create huge hardships for all Americans — was barely noticed.

        This partial government shutdown will inconvenience many, and of course for those Feds sent home without pay [although if the past is prologue, they’ll get it after the fact] it has significant impact.

        BTW — those furloughs from Obama’s sequester were the fault of Obama not being willing to accept more power to be flexible with funding rules, as well as the INTENTIONAL actions by the Obama Administration to try to use sequester to cause pain, rather than to be a REAL manager and work hard to mitigate the problems that a little bit less money might have on the overall organization.

  14. shoxie2 says:

    still working today–processing claims for the VA!!! and HAPPY to do it!!!

  15. guest says:

    This is a Libertarian’s dream…a Federal Government that is only performing essential services. Thank you Mr. President, the U.S. Senate (a special shout out to Sen. Reid) and the U.S. House.

    • Outside_the_beltway says:

      (No special shout out to Sen. Cruz?)

    • LikeBuffaloWingsALittleTooMuch says:

      I wouldn’t say this is the Libertarian dream, for a few reasons. First, there are still the same laws on the books, they’re just being enforced even less than usually. Second, the set of services being offered by the government is not the set of services that most Libertarians would want (military yes, but not most/all entitlement programs).

    • Guest says:

      Not only a Federal Government that only performs essential services, a Volunteer one at that! (Regardless of Past Practice, many conservative pundits seem to be slavering over the fact that back pay during a furlough is not guaranteed and does require an act of Congress.) Calls to und the volunteer Citizen Legislature of our Forefathers….oh, WAIT. I forgot. All of these idiots are still being paid!

  16. HarleyGirl795 says:

    I am “excepted” so I will be working, for free, until Congress gets its collective head out of its a$$ and does right for the country!

    • cavalryman40 says:

      Call Dirty Harry, he is the one who refuses to advance any CR to pay you..

      • $31427826 says:

        Funny, that’s not what I read

        • Hopeisnot_A_Plan says:

          You must have missed it. Harry had the last chance to avoid this mess but he chose the shutdown instead. He knows the Republicans will be blamed for it by the media so he has nothing to worry about.

          • $31427826 says:

            did not miss anything. The House is trying to hold the government hostage by either defunding the ACA (which they cannot do by law) or to delay it for one year. Personally I prefer to see it delayed with compromises from both parties, however, I do not trust the Republicans to agree to anything at this point. You’re correct, they will be blamed and rightly so.

          • cavalryman40 says:

            I will type this real slow, and use the shortest words I can, so maybe you can understand it. The Democratic Party had TOTAL control of the House, the Senate, and the Whitehouse in 2008,2009. TOTAL SUPERMAJORITY CONTROL! Did they give us a balanced budget? NO. Did they use this opportunity to get the finances of the country under control? NO. They rammed Obamacare down the throats of the people. In doing so, the American people took control of the House away from the Democrats and returned it to the Republicans in 2010. The current Republican controlled House is doing exactly what the people who put them in charge expected them to do. Its called “Representative Government” And yes they most certainly can defund the ASA by law. That is within their power.
            The bottom line is this: The blame for the current mess the country is in lays square on the Shoulders of BARRACK OBAMA, HARRY REID, and NANCY PELOSI. They had every opportunity to fix this mess, and they chose not to. You can point the fingers all you want, but you can’t change history. THEY OWN IT!

          • Hopeisnot_A_Plan says:

            You definitely need to write less and read more. The whole mess is on Dirty Harry’s shoulders at this time. I have no reason to believe that the ACA will be defunded or killed. It is the law whether anyone likes it or not. But, several funding bills have been passed by the House but Reid wants the whole banana. He needs to look up the word “compromise” to see what it means. The Republicans bent, a lot, but Harry and Obama are rigid and refuse to compromise so workers stay at home. The Republicans will be blamed no matter what so they really have nothing to lose at this point.

          • $31427826 says:

            Funding piecemeal is no good. I agree both parties need to sit down and work out some sort of compromise. This is dramatically affecting thousands of people. What happens in 2 weeks when the debt ceiling is hit? I would like to see spending reduced but not by shutting down the government.

        • cavalryman40 says:

          Try reading something besides the BS on Democratic Underground

  17. McCurrlly Outzzhappin says:

    This is super! Best news I’ve heard all week! Have all sorts of great shutdowntastic vacation plans for all of my extra additional vacation time off! Hope it lasts at least several weeks at a minimum. Great news! Will definitely enjoy every minute of all the extra time off immensely! Yippppppeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yahooooooooeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Does not get any better! Can’t wait to get started on a nice long extended well deserved break! Hopefully, it will last a good long while. Thanks Much!

    • grannybunny says:

      Why don’t you just quit or take leave without pay if you hate your job so much and don’t need the income?

      • McCurrlly Outzzhappin says:

        Cute! Sorry to disappoint you. Not that I hate my job so much. I just enjoy tons of time off better. Guess you enjoy working much more than doing what you like to do. No debt, livingsmall way below my means, saving and investing heavily. Works every time. Called great financial planning and smart investing. Has worked pretty well for me. Why would I leave with all this wonderful extra additional vacation time off. I am going to need to rest when I go back to work from all the super blowing it out shutdown blasts of fun I am having with the massively enjoyable tons of extra time off! Hopefully, it will last several weeks at a minimum. Loving every minute of all the extra vacation. Still have about six more additional weeks of use or lose to take! Yahooooooooeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Jim Bob says:

      It is doubtful that you are actually a federal employee. However, if you are, and are so overworked that you need to be furloughed in order to enjoy some rest, you really should consider quitting and getting your retirement job at Wal-Mart…that will give you plenty of time to rest.

  18. Plastictees says:

    I am requesting that the next government shutdown happens during the first weekend of march madness.

  19. Justin Case says:

    Title of article is misleading at best. The government is not shut down. Essential government services are not shut down, as the article states.

    • TheRealOldFed says:

      Who do you think supports the military? Who processes their pay, their requests for equipment and supplies? Civil Service employees, that’s who. They are being promised they will get paid, but what’s not making the news is they won’t get paid on time. That’s because the folks that do payroll are civilians who will be furloughed. Wait and see.

      • Justin Case says:

        I agree, but my point was that the title of the article is very misleading, if not false. It implies that the total government will be shut down. Not true. It should have read “partial shutdown”.

      • Fella says:

        Actually, that was in the bill that unanimous from both the House and the Senate. In previous shutdowns, that has been the case, but they have changed the mold with this one. Troops have always been paid on time, this time around they’re paying all those that support the troops on time, too.

      • HarleyGirl795 says:

        Um, to a certain extent, true. However, each office will have minimum staffing for things such as this, which is an ESSENTIAL service to the soldiers…

      • julianna1 says:

        You can’t pay for supplies and equipment if you don’t have the money. If the contractor that furnishes your supplies were sent home because you can’t pay them. Our NISH went home 2 hrs ago. (aka Servmarts) You can’t maintain installation facilities if the contractor where you buy the parts from has been sent home. You can’t buy parts for MHE and vehicles if said same contractor was sent home. Even if they were here, you still can’t buy anything…..there isn’t any money. So how are we “supporting” the military if we can’t get fix, repair, or replacement parts? Oh, we’re not.

      • mandinka says:

        Except 60% of those doing those tasks aren’t necessary in the 1st place

    • Rambo1957 says:

      Exactly right. The rhetoric is far worse than the reality. If anything, the sequester and now the “shutdown” shine a light on two things: politicians lie to us incessantly and many services can be done without or privatized.

    • AnotherGuessed says:

      Let’s be clear about one thing… the practical definition of “non-essential”.

      Can you hold your breath for 20 seconds? If you are in good physical condition, you can go for a full minute or more. By this definition, breathing is “non-essential”.

      When I worked for the federal government in the ’70’s, the “Training Officer” was deemed non-essential. If he was sent home, the mission continued. But in an organization which relied on the expertise of it’s technical personnel, the situation six months later would have become ugly.

      As for those who advocate turning “non-essential” functions over to the private sector, keep in mind that the private sector exists to make a profit. The cost to the taxpayer ends up being the same, or greater. The only difference is that under contracting, your tax dollars go to the bank account of a CEO instead of the paycheck of a fellow working schlub.

      • Justin Case says:

        My comment had nothing to do with the meaning of “essential” or “non-essential”. I said that the title of the article was misleading at best. It should have said that there is a PARTIAL shutdown. The title implies a TOTAL shutdown. Other sources state a partial shutdown, which is correct. But I guess that is standard practice nowadays for some reporters and journalists and commentators. Hysteria, exaggeration, half-truths and rhetoric gets more attention than the truth.

      • mandinka says:

        Hardly as Sec of Defense gates stated when forced to insource it took 2 feds to replace 1 contractor

  20. Fed_Peasant says:

    It has been said that insanity is doing the same thing over & over,& expecting a different outcome. Why keep voting for the democrats & republicans? Be brave enough to try something new:

    Libertarian Party

    Constitution Party

    Green Party

    Reform Party

    Independent American Party

    The two party system has a stranglehold on the USA!! No where,in the US Constitution,does it mention a republican or democrat. Term limits are a good idea, but not enough.

    • Fed Up! says:

      I agree with the sentiment, but unless we go to a parliamentary system its throwing your vote away. We basically have 3 parties now, with one extremely small and extreme, but its holding the other two hostage. George Washington was against the political party system for this very reason!

      • Soonershooter says:

        more like the dems are holding all the cards…immigration explosion, re-writing school books, voter fraud in numerous cities and states, ACRON or whatever they are called now, massive entitlements to the point that most low/uneducated can make far more from the gov then ever getting a job or career….sorry, but dems rule the future…

        • Ross200 says:

          A really dumb and uninformed comment, next time try harder.

        • Fed Up! says:

          ” massive entitlements to the point that most low/uneducated can make far more from the gov then ever getting a job or career..” sounds like you should quit whatever burger flipping job you have now and do well for yourself.

      • Fed_Peasant says:

        Believe what you wish. You have surrendered
        Your vote is wasted!!

      • mandinka says:

        I don’t think Obama’s socialist party is that small

  21. Barry says:

    in the long term, hopefully they have saved the unlimited spending of Obamacare. Obama and the democrats can only place blame but won’t face the facts of how it costs money when we don’t have it.