Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Essential and non-essential government employees

With budget talks between Republicans and Democrats far from resolution, official Washington braced on Tuesday for a replay of the Great Government Shutdowns of 1995 and 1996. ...

In any shutdown, the government does not completely cease functioning, of course. ... Employees deemed essential to the functioning of government can come to work. (In ego-driven Washington, a federal shutdown forces high-powered workers to confront their self-worth. Many federal officials insisted on showing up in previous shutdowns, apparently unable to come to grips with idea they might not be considered vital.) ...

Many of those [1.9 million civilian] workers are deemed nonessential, but federal officials have not provided an estimate of the number.

Administration officials said the Treasury would continue one indispensable role: holding regular auctions of federal debt, so the government could borrow more money from the public.
--Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Robert Pear, NYT, on what the federal government really needs

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