Thousands of area residents working at NASA and other federal jobs face being furloughed Monday after a shutdown triggered Friday when lawmakers failed to approve a spending bill. But how bad it gets depends on how long the impasse lasts in the U.S. Senate, District 14 U.S. Rep. Randy Weber said.
Hurricane Harvey Disaster Recovery Centers will remain open and monetary aid will continue to be dispersed, Federal Emergency Management Agency officials said.
If no deal is reached before Monday, however, many federal employees living in Galveston County likely will be furloughed, including those who work at the Johnson Space Center. That means they’ll be sent home from work without pay, although they might be compensated for that time later.
Only if the shutdown lasts into February will pay become an issue for the military, Weber said. Military employees have their salaries paid through Feb. 1.
“A lot of this will depend on how long the government shutdown goes,” Weber said. “We’re hoping to get things back on track, frankly, quite quickly.”
The U.S. Senate failed to pass a four-week budget extension by midnight Friday, leading to the fourth government shutdown in 25 years, The Associated Press reported.
Although congressional leaders worked late to reach a compromise, Democrats blocked the bill from passing. Democrats wanted certain protections for immigrants who came to the country illegally as children, The Associated Press reported.
Republicans hoped to satisfy the Democrats by reauthorizing the Children’s Health Insurance Program for six more years.
Only essential government operations will continue as a result of the shutdown. Hundreds of thousands of other federal employees will be furloughed if no deal is reached before Monday, according to The Associated Press.
Which employees are furloughed depends on the federal agency and whether their pay comes from the congressional budget, Weber said.
Congress on Saturday met to consider a three-week version of the spending extension, The Associated Press reported.
Many government functions will continue. During the shutdown, people will still receive mail and social security checks, for example.
At Johnson Space Center, the employees who wouldn’t be furloughed are those required to protect life and property, such as mission control employees for the International Space Station, according a memo published Nov. 30, 2017, by NASA’s chief financial officer.
In the most recent government shutdown in 2013, about 800,000 federal employees were told to stay home and were not paid for the days they worked. Those included employees at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.
Of the 3,056 employees at the space center, only 173 would be excluded from a furlough, according to NASA. Another 400 would be considered “on call.”
Federal Emergency Management Agency spokesman Robert Howard said many disaster relief employees will continue working regular schedules, because their salaries are funded from the Disaster Relief Fund.
“Employees whose salaries are funded from other than annually appropriated funds, including employees engaged in disaster operations, will be allowed to continue working,” FEMA officials said.