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Asean & Global Updates
POSTED | 15:35 PM | 22-01-2018

US govt workers fear shutdown

Thousands of federal workers faced uncertainty about the status of their jobs and paychecks after US Senate leaders failed to reach an agreement to end a government shutdown before the work week begins on Monday (Jan 22, 2018), Reuters reported.

Funding for federal agencies ran out at midnight on Friday and was not renewed amid a dispute between US President Donald Trump and Democrats over immigration.

Late on Sunday, the Senate scheduled a vote on a stopgap spending measure for noon on Monday (1700 GMT), ensuring the federal government would stay shut in the morning and leaving workers uncertain how long it would last.

“This is incredibly stressful,” said Jessica Klement, vice president at the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association, which represents more than 20,000 workers.

“Essential employees must report to work without knowing when they’ll be paid next,” she said. “Non-essential employees will be forced to stay home without pay, not knowing if back pay will be provided.”

Some employees may not have received notice of their status on Friday, she added, so they could be going into work on Monday morning only to be sent home again.

But the Smithsonian Museum announced on its website that its District of Columbia museums, research centers and the National Zoo would remain open on Monday using existing funds, but their status beyond then was uncertain.

The US Office of Professional Management advised that all federal employees refer to their home agency for guidance on reporting for duty.

During shutdowns, non-essential government employees are furloughed, or placed on temporary unpaid leave. Those deemed essential, including those dealing with public safety and national security, keep working.

The last shutdown, in October 2013, lasted more than two weeks, and more than 800,000 federal employees were furloughed.

There is no official tally of how many would be off work this time. But local economies could suffer in communities where thousands of non-essential personnel are likely to be off work, from Norfolk, Virginia, and Fayetteville, North Carolina, to Lakewood, Washington, and Oceanside, California.

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