National Day of Mourning Declared: Government Closed December 5th

On Wednesday, December 5th, the Federal Government will close in honor of America’s 41st president who died on Friday.

President Donald Trump has issued a proclamation announcing the death of President George H.W. Bush. Federal agencies will be closed on December 5th to honor of the death of America’s 41st President, George H. W. Bush.

The executive order, released on December 1st, orders federal agencies to prepare for the closing. This preparation includes determining the offices to remain open and personnel who will be required to report for national security, defense or other essential duties. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) will undertake the job of implementing the Executive Order.

President George H.W. Bush died on Friday. He was 94 years old. President Bush will lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda next week and the public will be able to pay respects from 7:30 p.m. Monday to 7 a.m. Wednesday.

President Trump’s proclamation stated, in part:

On the day he turned 18, 6 months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, George H.W. Bush volunteered for combat duty in the Second World War. The youngest aviator in United States naval history at the time, he flew 58 combat missions, including one in which, after taking enemy fire, he parachuted from his burning plane into the Pacific Ocean. After the war, he returned home and started a business. In his words, “the big thing” he learned from this endeavor was “the satisfaction of creating jobs.”

He never believed that government — even when under his own leadership — could be the source of our Nation’s strength or its greatness. America, he rightly told us, is illuminated by “a thousand points of light,” “ethnic, religious, social, business, labor union, neighborhood, regional and other organizations, all of them varied, voluntary and unique” in which Americans serve Americans to build and maintain the greatest Nation on the face of the Earth. President Bush recognized that these communities of people are the true source of America’s strength and vitality.

December 5th will be an observable holiday for most federal employees. Wednesday will be considered a holiday under the provisions of Executive Order 11582.

Holiday Pay

OPM issued guidance for determining how federal employees will be paid for the holiday Wednesday. According to OPM:

For pay and leave purposes, this period of time will be treated as falling within the scope of statutes and Executive orders governing holidays.  Most employees who are excused from duty as a result of the President’s Executive order will receive the basic pay they would have received if no Executive order had been issued.  An employee who was previously scheduled to take annual leave on December 5, 2018, will not be charged annual leave (or any other form of paid leave, compensatory time off, or credit hours) for that day.  (This policy does not apply to employees who receive annual premium pay for standby duty under 5 U.S.C. 5545(c)(1) or to firefighters who are covered by the special pay provisions of 5 U.S.C. 5545b.)

See OPM’s guidance document for complete details as to how pay and leave will be handled.

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47