Report to Work, D.C., Shutdown Averted

By Matthew Stabley
|  Saturday, Apr 9, 2011  |  Updated 8:53 AM EDT
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Report to Work, D.C., Shutdown Averted

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Republicans and Democrats reached an agreement late Friday night for a federal spending bill, averting a government shutdown that would have idled 800,000 federal employees.

That means it will be business as usual for employees of the District of Columbia as well as the region's thousands of federal workers.

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management posted an a notice to federal employees, advising them that a spending bill would be signed no later than Saturday afternoon.

From the OPM: "As a result, agencies are instructed to continue their normal operations. Specifically, employees should report to work on their next scheduled work day at their normal arrival time."

House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced the deal before 11 p.m. Friday.

That alone didn't keep government workers in business and getting paid, as it takes time to finalize legislation, but congressmen raced to approve a stopgap measure to avoid shutdown at midnight and fund the government through Friday, the Associated Press reported. The Senate quickly approved that measure on a voice vote -- with Sen. Rand Paul offering the lone "no" -- but the House had yet to approve the stopgap at the midnight deadline. Whatever time expires between the midnight and completion of the House vote will be covered retroactively.

The budget deal includes $38.5 million in spending cuts, the AP reported.  It would also cut $500 billion from the federal budget over a decade.

Democrats accused Republicans of using the budget showdown to showcase their anti-abortion agenda. While Planned Parenthood was spared the knife, sources said the spending deal includes a provision preventing D.C. from spending its own funds on abortions for poor women, The Washington Post reported.

So those D.C. employees and federal employees living in the D.C. area don't have to worry about getting paid, and local businesses like restaurants and stores don't have to worry so much about losing business during a shutdown. However, Destination DC reported that hotels already have seen a drop in business in anticipation of a shutdown.

This budget still has to be approved by Congress next week, and there is sure to be much drama surrounding that, so we may find ourselves repeating Friday's countdown to a shutdown once more. Tea partiers quickly expressed outrage over the deal.

In recent days, federal and D.C. government workers were advised to cut down on their own spending as it was unclear when they might get paid again. Essential employees like D.C. police and fire personnel would have had to stay on the job without pay.

Tourism was anticipating taking a hit with attractions like the Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo being closed. And a reduction in tourists, as well as a reduction in paychecks, would have trickled down to businesses that would likely have lost customers -- a belt-tightening domino effect.

Those who would be affected by a possible shutdown shouldn't celebrate too lavishly, though. The budget vote next week likely will have us on edge again.


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