The Washington Post

What happens with congressional employees if the government shuts down?

eye-opener-logo6

Furloughs would not apply to members of Congress if the government shuts down next week, in part because lawmakers would have no chance to restore funding and normal operations if that happened.

But what about the rest of the legislative branch — the congressional aides, the tour guides, the dry cleaners and the shoe shiners?

Federal law prohibits furloughs for employees who are “essential,” meaning they are necessary to safeguard human life and property or support the constitutional responsibilities of lawmakers. That last exception is a broad category that could apply to virtually any Hill staffer.

(Pete Marovich/Bloomberg) (Pete Marovich/Bloomberg)

Members of Congress and the directors of legislative agencies will decide who qualifies as “essential” and who is furloughed in their branch of government if a shutdown occurs, according to guidance from the House Administration Committee.

Examples of eligible employees include those who help with drafting legislation, researching, tallying votes, giving legal advice, handling communications or providing technological support, according to the committee.

The barber- and gift-shop employees aren’t so lucky. They fall into a category of service providers whose facilities would be closed. Same goes for the staff fitness centers, the stationary stores, the dry cleaners and the ID offices.

Child-care centers, payroll processors and post offices would operate as normal, but graphics staff would work only for floor debates, and technology specialists would offer reduced levels of support. Some dining areas would remain open with restricted hours, but others would close.

If you’re a member of the public who wants to see how Congress looks during a shutdown, don’t expect a guide. Tours would be cancelled, although the Capitol and and its surrounding congressional office buildings would remain open with limited access to parking and entrances.

As for health benefits, they would continue without interruption, even for employees who don’t work or receive pay during a shutdown. The government would retroactively deduct their missed premium contributions when pay resumes.

To connect with Josh Hicks, follow his Twitter feed or e-mail  josh.hicks@washpost.comFor more federal news, visit The Federal Eye, The Fed Page and Post Politics. E-mail federalworker@washpost.com with news tips and other suggestions.

Josh Hicks covers Maryland politics and government. He previously anchored the Post’s Federal Eye blog, focusing on federal accountability and workforce issues.

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Get Zika news by email

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Comments
Show Comments
The New Hampshire primary is Tuesday. Get caught up on the race.
New Hampshire primary: What to expect
New Hampshire will hold a traditional primary just eight days after the Iowa caucuses. Polling in the Granite state has historically been volatile in the final weeks before the primary. After the Iowa caucuses, many New Hampshire voters cement their opinions.
The Post's Ed O'Keefe says ...
Something has clicked for Bush in New Hampshire in the past few days. What has transpired by no means guarantees him a top-tier finish in Tuesday’s Republican primary here, but the crowds turning out to see him are bigger, his delivery on the stump is crisper and some of his key rivals have stumbled. At the least, the developments have mostly silenced talk of a hasty exit and skittish donors.
The feminist appeal may not be working for Clinton
In New Hampshire, Sen. Bernie Sanders is beating Clinton among women by eight percentage points, according to a new CNN-WMUR survey. This represents a big shift from the results last week in the Iowa caucuses, where Clinton won women by 11 points.
New Hampshire polling averages
Donald Trump holds a commanding lead in the next state to vote, but Marco Rubio has recently seen a jump in his support, according to polls.
New Hampshire polling averages
A victory in New Hampshire revitalized Hillary Clinton's demoralized campaign in 2008. But this time, she's trailing Bernie Sanders, from neighboring Vermont. She left the state Sunday to go to Flint, Mich., where a cost-saving decision led to poisonous levels of lead in the water of the poor, heavily black, rust-belt city. 
55% 40%
Upcoming debates
Feb. 11: Democratic debate

on PBS, in Wisconsin

Feb 13: GOP debate

on CBS News, in South Carolina

Feb. 25: GOP debate

on CNN, in Houston, Texas

Campaign 2016
State of the race

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.