Chaotic Holiday Shutdown Hurts Federal Employees and Taxpayers

Press Release December 22, 2018

Washington D.C. – Closing the federal government, even partially, is a colossal failure of basic governing and an unnecessary interruption of the services that taxpayers across the country rely upon every day, NTEU National President Tony Reardon said.

“Government shutdowns, no matter how long they last, are a disruptive, harmful mess that inconvenience taxpayers and steal the paychecks of federal employees,” Reardon said.

Today, Reardon sent letters to every member of the U.S. House and Senate urging them to re-open the government.

He noted passage in the Senate last night of legislation to ensure back pay for furloughed employees and thanked Sens. Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and others for their work on this bill. He asked the House to quickly take up and pass similar bipartisan legislation sponsored by Reps. Don Beyer (D-VA) and Rob Wittman (R-VA).

NTEU-represented agencies affected by the lapse in appropriations include: IRS, Customs and Border Protection, Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Communications Commission, Food and Drug Administration, Federal Election Commission, National Park Service, Patent and Trademark Office, Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Thousands of employees at these agencies woke up today wondering when their next paycheck would arrive, whether they’ll be able to keep their holiday leave plans and fearing the arrival of their monthly bills. Thousands more have to report to work on their normal weekend or overnight shifts without pay, such as Customs and Border Protection, illustrating that even a shutdown that starts on a holiday weekend is punishing.

“It’s galling that the people who did not cause the government shutdown are the ones who suffer the most: federal employees and the taxpayers they serve,” Reardon said.

Federal employees provide for the nation's security, protect the public health and safeguard our economy. More than 80 percent of them live outside the Washington D.C. area, serving their neighbors in every state and community.

NTEU's leaders at the IRS have raised concerns that a shutdown will impact the agency's ability to adequately prepare for the 2019 filing season which opens in a few weeks. The agency's shutdown plan, published by the Treasury Department, indicates that 88 percent of the IRS workforce is now furloughed, halting vital training and preparation for the massive tax code changes mandated by the Tax Cut and Jobs Act.

"For individual taxpayers and businesses who are going to need the IRS professionals to answer their questions, this shutdown could not be worse," Reardon said.

NTEU will continue to urge Congress and the administration to resolve their differences and pass full-year appropriation bills that contain adequate funding for agencies and a pay raise for federal employees.

NTEU represents 150,000 employees at 33 federal agencies and departments.