House and Senate leaders recently reached an agreement regarding the federal budget that many are claiming will avert another government shutdown. While most media coverage focuses on the debt ceiling and whether the budget plan will actually allow the country to avoid a default, little attention has been given to the idea that the agreement will actually prevent the government from shutting down.
Under the “poison pills” part of the agreement, the House and Senate are required to reach a bipartisan agreement if they want to include policy requirements in appropriations. So if one party wants to prohibit the use of appropriated funds for a border wall, it would be subject to the agreement. However, workforce-related issues may not fit the definition of the poison pills agreement if they get enough votes in the House and Senate. The issue then becomes whether President Trump wants to veto an appropriations bill over the particular workforce issue.
While a shutdown has been averted, for now, we suggest federal employees prepare for the possibility of another government shutdown in the future. If you are familiar with how the government works, you know this is just the first of many steps, and that the entire process can derail at any time if both parties can’t come to terms on certain issues or one side tries to include a poison pill in violation of the agreement. In fact, the last partial government shutdown occurred after politicians in the House, Senate, and White House all announced they had a deal. But after the President was swayed by far-right media outlets to take a stand on funding his border wall, the agreement dissolved and the government shutdown.
Taking the default off the table will hopefully make a shutdown less likely, but it is important that federal workers realize that the latest agreement isn’t a guarantee that there won’t be another shutdown. So if you work for the federal government, keep informed and pad your savings just in case budget negotiations go awry.