Washington D.C. – The end of the fiscal year is fast approaching which brings anxiety for federal employees who are concerned that a stalemate over new spending bills and increasing the debt limit could lead to a government shutdown and trigger a broader financial crisis.
Members of the National Treasury Employees Union around the country are urging their senators and representatives in Congress to reach an agreement that keeps the federal government open and allows the nation to continue to pay its bills and avoid a default.
The new fiscal year begins Oct. 1 and Congress has not appropriated any funds for federal agencies for FY 2022. Additionally, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has informed Congress that the federal government will run out of borrowing authority sometime in October.
“It has unfortunately become routine for the annual Sept. 30 appropriations deadline to be missed, leaving federal agencies to muddle along under a temporary spending bill or worse, a government shutdown,” said NTEU National President Tony Reardon. “And now on top of that, some in Congress are unwilling to raise the debt limit to cover spending in prior years, which is adding to the uncertainty. Federal employees and all Americans deserve a federal budgeting process that gives agencies the resources they need to serve the taxpayers without disruption, and the assurance that the U.S. is not on the brink of default.”
A shutdown would interrupt government services affecting all Americans and cause chaos for federal employees who would have to go without pay during the shutdown, regardless of whether they are required to stay on the job during the shutdown or are locked out of their offices.
"Even with the promise of backpay once the shutdown ends, forcing federal employees to go without income during a shutdown is a significant financial hardship,” Reardon said.
The House on Tuesday approved a continuing resolution that would avoid a shutdown on Oct. 1 by extending agency funding levels until Dec. 3. The bill would also suspend the debt limit through December 2022, making it unlikely to pass the Senate where at least 46 Republican senators have announced they will not vote to increase the debt limit.
“We certainly appreciate the White House and those in Congress who are trying approve a continuing resolution by Sept. 30 in order to avoid a shutdown,” Reardon said. “But we hope a year-long deal is not far behind because the longer government runs on a CR, the harder it is for agencies to plan for the future, hire new employees and update technology.”
The 2022 fiscal year is supposed to bring a renewed investment in the IRS to rebuild its workforce after 10 years of cuts, bolster enforcement and improve customer service. And at Customs and Border Protection, the pandemic has caused a drop in user fees associated with trade and travel that must be replaced in order to maintain staffing levels.
“Indeed, most federal agencies were in line for funding increases under the president’s proposed budget and we have been working all year to generate bipartisan support for appropriation bills that give agencies the tools and resources they need to accomplish their missions,” Reardon said.
NTEU represents employees in 34 federal agencies and departments.