More than 800,000 federal employees breathed a sigh of relief when Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced a tentative agreement to fund the government through the remainder of the fiscal year.
Finalized with less than two hours before the government would shut down, the agreement will not go into effect until later this week. Congressional staff must first write the handshake agreement into legislative language and pass a bill through both chambers before it goes to the White House for the President’s signature. In the meantime, Congress passed a bridge continuing resolution to fund the government until the full fiscal year bill is signed into law.
“We are certainly relieved that a deal was reached, but we have some reservations,” said NFFE-IAM National President William R. Dougan. “We still do not know how big the cuts are going to be across different agencies. Although we have been given an assurance that provisions directly targeting federal employees – like eliminating step increases – are not part of the deal, the billions in cuts are still likely to have an impact on federal workers employed at the agencies that receive cuts.”
While federal workers dodged the shutdown bullet last week, additional fiscal battles lie ahead, including a fight over raising the limit on the national debt, which is expected to hit the current $14.3 trillion ceiling next month. Among the proposals from House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, (R-WI) is a five-year pay freeze for federal workers and a 10 percent attrition-based cuts to the government’s workforce.