EPA back in business

EPA reopened its doors today. The agency is aiming for back pay to appear in the October 29 paycheck. Meanwhile, employees began to dive back into their in boxes and to confront the environmental challenges that don't disappear on their own.

Back to work ... ?

The National Journal's Matt Berman is reporting:

"The director of the Office of Management and Budget has issued a statement letting furloughed employees know it's time to get back to work. Tomorrow.
"'Now that the bill has passed the United States Senate and the House of Representatives, the President plans to sign it tonight and employees should expect to return to work in the morning. Employees should be checking the news and OPM's website for further updates.'"

House votes 285-144 to reopen government, extend debt limit

The President is expected to sign it as soon as it hits his desk.

Senate passes debt deal, votes to reopen government

The vote was 81-18.
The bill also includes back pay for federal employees.
It's up to the House now.
The names of those voting for the bill to reopen the government and extend the borrowing authority:

A deal is on the table; will it pass?

Govexec is reporting that the Senate deal includes back pay for furloughed federal workers, would fund the government through Jan. 15, and would extend the government's borrowing authority through Feb. 7.
Stay tuned to see whether both the House and Senate pass this bill today. If they do, the President is expected to sign it quickly.
Also a reminder: New Jersey is holding a special election today for Senator. NJ residents, remember to vote!


There's a special Senate election in New Jersey today (Wed. 10/16); all NJ residents should be sure to vote. There's also a picket in Philadelphia today, on People's Plaza (southeast corner of 5th and Market) at noon. Meanwhile, all eyes are on Congress, where a deal is in the works to possibly end the shutdown and avert a government default. Stay tuned throughout the day; if the deal passes, EPA employees could be back to work as early as tomorrow.

AFGE's open letter on behalf of federal workers

AFGE President, J. David Cox, sent an open letter to President Obama on behalf of federal employees:

Rally on Wednesday

A message from AFGE Local 2058:
We will be holding a picket on People's Plaza (southeast corner of 5th and Market) at noon on Wednesday if the government shutdown has not ended. We encourage all members and their families to join the picket. What better way to exercise your freedom of speech and to show your family the power of organized labor! Have no illusions, there are people out there who think this is a vacation for federal

What federal workers have already given

In the running of this government and in budget negotiations, there has been talk of "shared sacrifice" and "compromise." Here is what has already been taken from federal workers in recent years:
Three years, and counting, of pay freezes;
New employees required to contribute more toward their retirement;
Payment into federal retirement funds suspended as part of the "extraordinary measures" used by Treasury Secretary Lew to keep the government operating even after the debt ceiling was hit in May 2013;

Unemployment in Pennsylvania

Furloughed federal workers who apply for unemployment in Pennsylvania, take note:

Pennsylvania has a requirement that you must actively seek employment while collecting unemployment compensation. When I asked whether that applies to us--because we are technically still employed even though we do not have a definite recall date--I was told that yes, it does.


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