Trump Shutdown Day#27: @StateDept, Also a National Security Agency, Now Says, We Just Found Some Money, Come Back to Work

Posted: 4:19 am EST

On January 17, on the 27th day of the Trump Shutdown, the State Department released an  Urgent Message from the Deputy Under Secretary for Management William Todd instructing employees to return to work on their first work day in Pay Period 2, which is either January 20, or January 22 depending on their  location and start of their work week.  Apparently, he has found some money to pay employees, and this would allow the agency to resume most personnel operations.  Which should be a relief to agency employees here and in over 275 overseas locations where people are worried not only about paying their bills, but also something as basic as obtaining heating oil during the winter months. We’re not sure if this would save those who are already considering curtailments, even resignations, and seeking work elsewhere.

Mr. Todd’s message did not explain where he found the money, why it took four weeks to find it, and why we’re just seeing “national security agency” and “imperative” to describe the State Department and its mission on the 4th week of the shutdown.

Given the poor track record here, we’re concerned that people are asked to go back to work while the State Department is “taking steps to make additional funds available to pay employee salaries.”

What does that even mean? Where is the State Department getting those additional funds? Is it planning to break into Fort Knox?

Also we’re not sure who were actually told about this in the “M” family bureaus. Apparently, people are calling FSI to see what this means. Can they go back to language training even if many of the instructors are contractors?

Reported FSI’s response, “We don’t know. We found out when you did.”

Holy guacamole, so Deputy M’s message is just like a presidential tweet but longer than 280!

ABC News has this nugget from an unnamed spox:

While the department could have taken this step to pay employees as soon as the shutdown started, it didn’t largely because no one anticipated the shutdown to last this long.

“It has become clear as the lapse has continued to historic lengths that we need our full team to address the myriad critical issues requiring U.S. leadership around the globe and to fulfill our commitments to the American people,” a State Department spokesperson told ABC News. “We are also deeply concerned about growing financial hardship and uncertainty affecting Department employees whose salaries and well-being are affected by the unprecedented length of the lapse.”

Whaaaat? Also U.S. leadership yabayabado frak!

The United States has become the subject of alarm and jokes from all continents except perhaps from the sober penguins of Antarctica. In these abnormal times, the Emperor penguins, by the way, boldly  want to know how many more bananas do we want?

Politico’s Nahal Toosi also has a comment from longest serving M, Patrick Kennedy:

Pat Kennedy, a former senior State Department official who oversaw management issues at the agency for years, said Thursday that diplomats should have been exempted from the shutdown from the start.

“As a national security agency, no one should have ever been furloughed” at the State Department, he wrote in an email. “And the available funds balances should have been utilized from the beginning so that all employees were paid all along.”

What that State Department spox forgot to add to ABC News is — “M” shoes are too big to fill for some people. Who knew?  (see Wait – @StateDept Has a Deputy “M” Again, a Position Discontinued by Congress in 1978). We should note that the State Department had a Senate- confirmed M, and a Senate-confirmed DGHR when Rex Tillerson took office but both were gone fairly quickly under T-Rex’s watch.

Also two years on in this administration, the State Department still does not have a Senate-confirmed Under Secretary for Management. The first Trump nominee for M during Tillerson’s time had an SFRC hearing but was then withdrawn. The second Trump nominee for M, Brian Bulatao, this time under Pompeo, had his nomination returned to the president at the end of last Congress. That nomination was resubmitted to the U.S. Senate on January 16. Since the GOP has an expanded majority in the U.S. Senate, we expect that this nomination will get through the confirmation process at some point, unless a GOP senator finds some issue with it.

Below is the Deputy M message, original statement posted here:

As a national security agency, it is imperative that the Department of State carries out its mission. We are best positioned to do so with fully staffed embassies, consulates, and domestic offices.

Recognizing the increasing hardship to employees caused by the ongoing lapse in appropriations, the Department is taking steps to make additional funds available to pay employee salaries. By taking these steps, the Department expects to be able to resume most personnel operations and fund most salaries beginning with Pay Period 2. As a result, all State Department direct-hire employees and State Department locally employed staff are expected to report to work on their first work day in Pay Period 2. For most employees, that will be January 22. For some overseas posts, where Sunday is the first day of the work week, that will be January 20. Contractors should contact their COR for reporting instructions.

Employees will be paid for work performed beginning on or after January 20 and will receive paychecks for Pay Period 2 on time on February 14. Beyond Pay Period 2, we will review balances and available legal authorities to try to cover future pay periods.

Employees, including those who have performed excepted functions, will not be paid for Pay Period 26 and Pay Period 1(the time period between December 22, 2018, and January 19, 2019) until FY 2019 appropriations are enacted.

Although most personnel operations can resume, bureaus and posts are expected to adhere to strict budget constraints with regard to new spending for contracts, travel, and other needs, consistent with Section B of the Department’s guidance on lapse in appropriations.

Thank you for your continued cooperation.

Very Best Regards,
Bill Todd
Deputy Under Secretary for Management

Please note that even if State Department employees start getting paid again, there are thousands more federal employees who are forced to work without pay, and many more sent home without pay. Here are some upcoming dates in the next couple of weeks. See more at CNBC:

Jan. 20: Deadline to make early food stamp payments

Jan. 25: Workers start missing next paychecks

Jan. 28: IRS expected to start accepting tax filings

Jan. 29: State of the Union

Feb. 8: Third missed paycheck

This is no way to run a country, but this is how our country is run these days. No wonder the Emperor penguins in Moscow are also laughing their heads off.

White House Submits Some @StateDept/Related Agencies Re-nominations to the Senate

Posted: 4:52 am EST

Via WH, January 16, 2019

 

STATE DEPARTMENT

Brian J. Bulatao, of Texas, to be an Under Secretary of State (Management), vice Patrick Francis Kennedy.

David Schenker, of New Jersey, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (Near Eastern Affairs), vice Anne W. Patterson, resigned.

David Stilwell, of Hawaii, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (East Asian and Pacific Affairs), vice Daniel R. Russel.

Stephen Akard, of Indiana, to be Director of the Office of Foreign Missions, with the rank of Ambassador, vice Gentry O. Smith, resigned.

Marshall Billingslea, of Virginia, to be an Under Secretary of State (Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights), vice Sarah Sewall, resigned.

R. Clarke Cooper, of Florida, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (Political-Military Affairs), vice Puneet Talwar, resigned.

Robert A. Destro, of Virginia, to be Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, vice Tomasz P. Malinowski.

Jeffrey L. Eberhardt, of Wisconsin, a Career Member of the Senior Executive Service, to be Special Representative of the President for Nuclear Nonproliferation, with the rank of Ambassador.

Ronald Mortensen, of Utah, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (Population, Refugees, and Migration), vice Anne Claire Richard.

Kimberly Breier, of Virginia, to be a Member of the Board of Directors of the Inter-American Foundation for a term expiring September 20, 2020, vice Adolfo A. Franco, term expired.

 

AMBASSADORS/POLITICAL

John P. Abizaid, of Nevada, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Lynda Blanchard, of Alabama, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Slovenia.

Joseph Cella, of Michigan, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Fiji, and to serve concurrently and without additional compensation as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Kiribati, the Republic of Nauru, the Kingdom of Tonga, and Tuvalu.

Edward F. Crawford, of Ohio, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Ireland.

David T. Fischer, of Michigan, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Kingdom of Morocco.

Kenneth S. George, of Texas, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Oriental Republic of Uruguay.

Jeffrey Ross Gunter, of California, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Iceland.

Kenneth A. Howery, of Texas, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Kingdom of Sweden.

Ronald Douglas Johnson, of Florida, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of El Salvador.

Doug Manchester, of California, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

Lana J. Marks, of Florida, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of South Africa.

John Rakolta Jr., of Michigan, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the United Arab Emirates.

Leandro Rizzuto, of New Jersey, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Barbados, and to serve concurrently and without additional compensation as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

Donald R. Tapia, of Arizona, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Jamaica.

Christine J. Toretti, of Pennsylvania, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Malta.

Adrian Zuckerman, of New Jersey, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Romania.

 

AMBASSADORS/CAREER

Kate Marie Byrnes, of Florida, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Macedonia.

Michael J. Fitzpatrick, of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Ecuador.

W. Patrick Murphy, of Vermont, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Kingdom of Cambodia.

Daniel N. Rosenblum, of Maryland, a Career Member of the Senior Executive Service, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Uzbekistan.

Matthew H. Tueller, of Utah, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Iraq.

Note: There appears to be three career diplomats on the Executive Calendar whose nominations have not been resubmitted to the Senate with this list (Robert K. Scott for Republic of Malawi; Francisco Luis Palmieri for Honduras, and Joseph E. Macmanus for Colombia). Also many more names that were pending in the SFRC last year that we expected to see renominated but as of this writing, the White House has not done so except for a couple nominees. It could just be a matter of time. We expected this list to come out the first week of January, and the names were only sent to the Senate on January 16. We’ll be in the look out for that other long list. 

USUN

Andrew P. Bremberg, of Virginia, to be Representative of the United States of America to the Office of the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva, with the rank of Ambassador.

Kip Tom, of Indiana, for the rank of Ambassador during his tenure of service as U.S. Representative to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture.

BBG

Michael Pack, of Maryland, to be Chief Executive Officer of the Broadcasting Board of Governors for the term of three years.  (New Position)

USAID

John Barsa, of Florida, to be an Assistant Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, vice Marcela Escobari.

Mina Chang, of Texas, to be an Assistant Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, vice Jonathan Nicholas Stivers.

Richard C. Parker, of North Carolina, to be an Assistant Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, vice T. Charles Cooper, resigned.

PEACE CORPS

Alan R. Swendiman, of North Carolina, to be Deputy Director of the Peace Corps, vice Carlos J. Torres.

 

EXPORT-IMPORT BANK

Spencer Bachus, III, of Alabama, to be Member of the Board of Directors of the Export-Import Bank of the United States for a term expiring January 20, 2023, vice Patricia M. Loui, term expired.

Claudia Slacik, of New York, to be a Member of the Board of Directors of the Export-Import Bank of the United States for a term expiring January 20, 2023, vice Sean Robert Mulvaney.

Kimberly A. Reed, of West Virginia, to be President of the Export-Import Bank of the United States for a term expiring January 20, 2021, vice Fred P. Hochberg, resigned.

OPIC

Irving Bailey, of Florida, to be a Member of the Board of Directors of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation for a term expiring December 17, 2021, vice Matthew Maxwell Taylor Kennedy, term expired.

Christopher P. Vincze, of Massachusetts, to be a Member of the Board of Directors of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation for a term expiring December 17, 2019, vice Todd A. Fisher, term expired.

MCC

Alexander Crenshaw, of Florida, to be a Member of the Board of Directors of the Millennium Challenge Corporation for a term of three years, vice Mark Green, term expired.

George M. Marcus, of California, to be a Member of the Board of Directors of the Millennium Challenge Corporation for a term of three years, vice Morton H. Halperin, term expired.

WHO: Brett P. Giroir, of Texas, to be Representative of the United States on the Executive Board of the World Health Organization, vice Thomas Frieden.

IMF: Mark Rosen, of Connecticut, to be United States Executive Director of the International Monetary Fund for a term of two years, vice Margrethe Lundsager, resigned.

OSCE: James S. Gilmore, of Virginia, to be U.S. Representative to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, with the rank of Ambassador.

OSCD: Pamela Bates, of Virginia, to be Representative of the United States of America to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, with the rank of Ambassador.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mental Health Resources, Staff Care, Counseling Assistance, Hotlines For Furloughed Employees

Posted: 3:06 am EST

 

+ State Department Mental Health Resources

Via STATE: MED’s Employee Consultation Services (ECS) office remains open with reduced staffing during the furlough. You can reach ECS at 703-812-2257 or email MEDECS@state.gov.  We emailed MEDECS and received the following auto-response email:

Thank you for contacting our office. During this lapse in appropriation period, Employee Consultation Services (ECS) continues to provide urgent short-term counseling services for domestic and overseas staff, Family Advocacy case management, urgent consultations, and referrals. Please provide a short narrative of ‎the nature of your urgent request and one of our clinicians will correspond as soon as possible or you can reach our office during DC working hours at 703-812-2257. For other urgent requests after working hours, please contact us at 202-320-7493.

Worklife4you is also available for consultations and referral services 24/7 at 866-552-4748, worklife4you.com.

WorkLife4You (WL4Y) is a comprehensive and confidential resource and referral for employees. WL4Y specialists are accessible 24/7 by phone (1-866-552-4748) and online to provide expert guidance and referrals for a wide variety of services to help employees balance the demands of their professional and personal lives. Employees can view the services by logging into the website, www.Worlklife4You.com, with the Screen name: statedepartment and Password: infoquest. Employees will need to register individually to use the services.

+ USAID Staff Care

Via USAID Administrator Mark Green: Our colleagues who are managing the email box shutdown_info@usaid.gov briefed me that they have received several questions about whether Staff Care remains open. Yes, it does. Staff Care is available to the USAID workforce throughout the funding lapse. Staff Care does great work, and we encourage you to reach out whenever necessary. As we have heard about some of the challenges our colleagues are facing at this time, we encourage you to share this message broadly.

We encourage you and your colleagues to reach out whenever necessary to Staff Care, which will remain available throughout the lapse in appropriations. The Staff Care Call Center is open 24/7 and can be accessed through the toll-free phone number below or the website. The Staff Care Services Center in Washington, D.C., at 601 13th Street, N.W., Suite 900 South, is open for walk-ins and appointments from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday. You may make appointments for the Staff Care Services Center through the call-center line as well.

Staff Care Services 24 Hours a Day, 7 Days a Week, 365 Days a Year
Free Phone: 877-988-7243
Direct Dial: 919-645-4960
Reverse Charge Calling: +44-0-208-987-6200 (Call your international operator and request the charges be reversed to the number listed above.)
TTY: 888-262-7848
SMS: 314-910-7728
EMail: support@usaidstaffcarecenter.net

Website: staffcare.usaid.gov
Registration code: USAID

USAID Staff Care Services Center
601 13th Street, N.W.
Suite 900 South
Washington, D.C. 20005

+Peace Corps: Personal Counseling Assistance – Employee Assistance Program

The Employee Assistance Program remains available throughout the lapse.  Feel free to contact 1-888-993-7650.

+ Washington, D.C. Behavioral Health Community-based Service Providers

You can call or visit a provider to help you make a choice. And, you can talk with a mental health counselor at our 24/7 Access Helpline 1-888-7WE-HELP to help you select the most appropriate provider. Check link for list of providers and contact info.

  • Same Day Urgent Care
    You can walk into a clinic located at 35 K Street N and be seen the same day without an appointment from 8:30 am to 3 pm. Services include assessment, counseling, psychiatric evaluation and medication management. You may be referred to a community provider for ongoing care. If you have questions, please call (202) 442-4202.

+ Alexandria VA Emergency Hotlines

If you are in a crisis and need to talk to someone, call the CrisisLink Hotline at 703.527.4077 or text “connect” to 85511 (for TTY, dial 711), or the Department of Community & Human Services Emergency Services at 703.746.3401.

+ Montgomery County Crisis Center

The Crisis Center provides crisis mental health services 24 hours a day/365 days a year.  Services are provided by telephone (240-777-4000) or in person at 1301 Piccard Drive in Rockville (no appointment needed).  Visit https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/HHS-Program/Program.aspx?id=BHCS/BHCS24hrcrisiscenter-p204.html.

 

 

Counties, Utility Companies Offer Assistance to Furloughed Federal Employees in D.C. Area

Posted: 2:30 am EST

On January 14, we posted Furlough Assistance For Federal Employees and Pets During Shutdown. This is a follow-up list focusing on county assistance, and Washington, D.C. area utility companies that hopefully can be of use to you.  H/T to peacecorps.gov for the original utilities list offering assistance to furloughed employees. We have supplemented their list.

 

Arlington County Utility Payment Plans for Furloughed Federal Employees 

If you are a furloughed federal employee and are struggling to pay your County Utility Bill, please call our Customer Contact Center at 703-228-6570. You may be eligible for a payment arrangement that will allow you to extend your payment without the accrual of any late fees.

Fairfax County Coordinated Services Planning (CSP)

CSP connects Fairfax County residents to county and community-based services and resources. Just one phone call will get you connected to the information and assistance you need. Call 703-222-0880, TTY 711. In addition, our multilingual staff can assist callers in Amharic, Arabic, Dari, Farsi, French, Hindi, Italian, Korean, Pashto, Punjabi, Somali, Spanish, Swedish, Tigrinya and Urdu. CSP services are also available in other languages through the use of an interpreter.

Beginning Thursday, Jan. 17, Fairfax Connector will provide free rides system-wide for federal government employees affected by the government shutdown who are still required to report for work.

  • You must show your federal photo ID to the bus operator when boarding to ride free.
  • By showing your federal photo ID, trips taken on all Fairfax Connector bus routes are free, including express routes to and from the Pentagon and Downtown D.C.

Alexandria, VA for  food assistance and other resources, call 703.746.5902

The Reston Community Center will be offering special summer camp fee waivers for affected families. To be eligible for this shutdown program, families must present their federal government employee identification when registering for 2019 camp sessions. Affected federal departments include Agriculture, Commerce, Homeland Security, Health and Human Services, Interior, Justice, State, Transportation and Treasury. Patrons must also live or work in Reston to receive the special fee waiver.  Affected families will pay $10 per child per week of camp; some camps are half-day in length. RCC offers an “after-care” option called Zen Zone for those in less than a full day of camp, which would cost another $10 for enrollment under the fee waiver program.

Loudoun County 

The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors has approved financial aid to local food pantries and a temporary fee waiver for federal workers who ride Loudoun County Transit buses. The Board also approved the allocation of up to $25,000 to Loudoun Hunger Relief and the Dulles South Food Pantry to help the organizations meet any increase in requests for food assistance caused by the federal government shutdown.

Prince George’s County Relief Package

From Angela D. Alsobrooks Prince George’s County Executive:

“Yesterday we held an event with several local partners to announce a “shutdown relief package” for Prince George’s County residents who are currently furloughed by the federal government shutdown. Through a combination of county government resources and contributions from community partners, we are offering a package of resources that will help bring some stability and security to families who are trying to figure out how to pay the bills or put food on the table. While we do not know how long this shutdown will continue, we want our county residents who are struggling to know that we have your back. I’d like to highlight a couple of the resources being provided by the county below:

Maryland National Capital Park and Planning, through their Department of Parks and Recreation, will waive membership fees for any federal worker affected by the shutdown. You may use any of their exercise facilities. The department is also waiving childcare fees for furloughed workers until the end of the shutdown.

I have authorized our county budget director to put an additional $70,000 into our Emergency Assistance Fund, giving us a total of $150,000 to help those with immediate financial need. The fund can help with items such as delinquent mortgages, utility bills and other financial needs.

While these are resources that the county is providing, local partners in the community have stepped up to provide several resources as well. We’ve built a webpage that lists all the resources currently being offered to furloughed workers, and we will continue to update it as we get more commitments. To find all those resources, please visit the site at: www.princegeorgescountymd.gov/shutdown.

Washington, DC Area Utility Companies 

Pepco waived late fees and said customers could call to set up budget billing or move bill due dates. The utility also created a $50,000 matching grant to an emergency fund created by the United Way of the National Capital Area.
D.C. customers can call 1-800-735-2258;
Maryland customers can call 1-800-643-3768.

D.C. Water said in a statement that it would “immediately begin working with any federal worker who may need additional flexibility in paying their bill.” Programs include extended payment plans and assistance offered through the D.C. Department of Energy and Environment.
Customers can call 202-354-3600.

Washington Gas said in a statement that it will “offer flexible payment arrangements for government employees directly impacted” by the shutdown. Programs include payment deferments, budget plans and help through a fuel assistance fund.
Customers can call 1-844-WASHGAS.

Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission  WSSC will suspend all water service shutoffs to ensure safe, clean water continues to flow to customer’s homes. Additionally, the state’s largest water utility serving 1.8 million residents in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties will delay bill payments, waive all late fees, and work one-on-one with customers impacted by the shutdown to establish convenient payment plans.  In addition to these new assistance measures targeted to customers impacted by the federal shutdown, WSSC offers a variety of affordability programs to help customers in need.
Customers are encouraged to contact WSSC and speak with a representative at 301-206-4001 or 1-800-828-6439 to discuss their specific situation.

Dominion Energy doesn’t have a program specifically for furloughed workers, but the utility has a number of options for energy assistance, including budget billing and programs offered through the Virginia Department of Social Services.
Customers can call 866-366-4357.

The Washington Area Fuel Fund (WAFF): Founded by Washington Gas and administered by The Salvation Army, WAFF helps families who do not qualify for, or who have exhausted, government energy assistance. WAFF provides funds for all types of fuel to heat families’ homes during the winter heating season. Through its merger with AltaGas, Washington Gas has increased its funding to WAFF and broadened WAFF’s eligibility beyond low-income customers. For example, a family of four earning $75,050 could qualify for assistance. WAFF also accepts donations to assist neighbors in need. Every dollar donated to WAFF goes directly to those who need assistance because Washington Gas pays the administrative fees of the fund. For more information or to apply for assistance, contact The Salvation Army at 888-318-WAFF (9233) or visit http://washingtonareafuelfund.org/.

 

Emergency Food Via AFL-CIO-United Way

Community Services Agency of the Metropolitan Washington AFL-CIO | 202-974-8226

Non-perishable canned and dry goods available while supplies last. Must make appointment to pick-up by emailing sducote@dclabor.org.

Capital Area Food Bank https://www.capitalareafoodbank.org/programs-2/#Distribution

Northern Virginia Family Service Emergency Food Assistance (NVFS) https://www.nvfs.org/our-services/healthwell-being/food-assistance/

See more AFL-CIO Government Shutdown Resources

American Federation of Government Employees(AFGE)/Feeding America

Find Your Local Food Bank

#

Operation Chaos: $4.2Billion and counting, this is the ongoing #TrumpShutdown cost to U.S. taxpayers

Posted: 12:13 am EST

Via shutdowncalculator.com

Note: We will keep this counter on the blog’s side bar until the federal government reopens. Thanks XX!  For those who do not like the name of this shutdown, please watch this “I will be the one to shut it down. I’m not going to blame you for it” video before sending us a love letter.

#

 

@StateDept Issues “To Whom It May Concern” Departmental Letter to Creditors

Posted: 3:22 pm PST

 

Below is the letter the State Department issued for employees to send to their creditors. This is exactly the same text of the letter issued by the Department of Homeland Security to its employees on December 22, 2018.  Please DM or email us whether this letter has any effect on the response creditors extended to you. Also, if any grocery chain accepts this in lieu of payment, please give us a holler.

Via state.gov:

Furlough Assistance For Federal Employees and Pets During Shutdown

Posted: 3:11 am EST
Updated: 1:10 pm EST
Updated: Jan 16, 2:35 am EST: Click here for counties/utilities assistance for furloughed employees.

 

SDFCU

Furlough Relief for Impacted Members

The State Department Federal Credit Union is offering service changes to help members who may be impacted by the current government furlough.

Please call us at 800-296-8882 or 703-706-5000, or email sdfcu@sdfcu.org to request assistance with any of the following:

  • – Refund any late fees on loan payments
  • – Eliminate the penalty for cashing in Share Certificates early so you can have access to your money sooner rather than later
  • – Refund cash advance fees for our Visa Platinum or Premium Cash Back+ credit cards when using an ATM
  • – Make emergency credit card loans available at 0% interest for the first two months
  • – Delay loan payments on a case-by-case basis

The services listed above are only available to members directly impacted and are scheduled to end on January 31, 2019; however, the program end date might be adjusted depending upon the length of the government furlough.

 

Thrift Savings Plan

Government Shutdown and Loan Payments

“Government Shutdown and Loan Payments — (January 8, 2019) The TSP allows for the suspension of loan payments when you go into nonpay status to prevent your loan from going into default. Normally, we require documentation from your agency or service. However, the TSP does not need documentation of your furlough at this time. If your loan payments were up to date prior to the furlough, missing one or two payments will not cause your loan to be in default. You can check the status of your loan by logging into My Account, selecting “TSP Loans,” and then selecting “Are my payments up to date?” Or you can call the ThriftLine at 1-877-968-3778 and speak to a Participant Service Representative.

As long as retroactive pay is approved, all missed loan payments will be submitted and posted to your loan. We will provide more information as the furlough continues or as events change.” (via tsp.gov)

 

Navy Federal

Government Shutdown Assistance

You may be eligible for government shutdown assistance if your pay is impacted, you’ve set up direct deposit of pay with Navy Federal, and you are 1) a Federal government employees, 2) Active Duty service members of the Coast Guard

Navy Federal’s Government Shutdown Loan Program calculates loan amounts based on the amount of the most recent direct deposit of pay made prior to the interruption of pay. Loans have a 0% APR and are available up to a maximum loan amount of $6,000.

If your pay is disrupted, but you don’t meet the eligibility requirements, Navy Federal recommends that you visit a branch or contact them at 1-888-842-6328 to discuss your situation with one of their Member Service Representatives.

 

Chase Bank

Customers Affected by Government Shutdown Should Call Chase If They Need Help with Their Loans

Chase encouraged customers affected by the U.S. government shutdown to call if they need help with their Chase mortgages, credit card accounts or car loans. Customers can find out about Chase’s hardship programs by calling the special care line at 1-888-356-0023.

Chase offers hardship programs to customers broadly who have been affected by unemployment, financial strain or natural disasters, including potentially:

  • Waiving or refunding late fees
  • Extending payments on car loans and leases
  • Protecting customers’ credit histories

 

Wells Fargo

Government Shutdown Assistance

The bank will work with individuals and business banking customers whose income is disrupted as a result of the shutdown. Customers should call 1-800-TO-WELLS, or the number on their credit card, debit card or statement for assistance, or visit any Wells Fargo branch.

In addition, Wells Fargo mortgage, loan, and credit customers may qualify for forbearance or other payment assistance programs based on their individual circumstances. Click here for specific services available and contact numbers.

 

Bank of America

Bank of America Contacts Clients Affected by Government Shutdown

“Our Client Assistance Program is available to individuals affected by the shutdown for personalized financial assistance, tailored to their specific situation and financial needs.”

The bank has set up a priority assistance phone line that clients can contact at 844.219.0690. For personalized assistance, they also can schedule an appointment to meet with a specialist.

 

Capital Area Food Bank

Part of the Food Bank Network connecting its partners and neighbors in need with healthy food. The Food Bank Network creates links to the CAFB’s network of food assistance partners and programs while providing real time access to services such as affordable housing and job training. Click here for searchable database for food assistance and other necessities.

 

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Federal Offices in WDC Area on Trump Shutdown Now on Snow Shutdown For Monday 1/14

Posted: 1:08 am EST

 

Via OPM:

This announcement does not apply to furloughed employeesimpacted by the lapse in appropriations, as they are already in a non-work status.

Excepted employees (e.g., those excepted from the furlough to protect life or property or those who must support them or other non-furloughed employees “by necessary implication”) will follow the operating status announcement, except any time in a non-work status will be considered to be furlough time.

Employees who are Funded or Exempt from Furlough

Non-emergency employees generally will be granted weather and safety leave for the number of hours they were scheduled to work. However, weather and safety leave will not be granted to employees who are:

  • emergency employees who are required to report for duty;
  • telework program participants (with certain narrow exceptions);
  • on official travel outside of the duty station;
  • on preapproved leave (paid or unpaid) or other paid time off (applicable to Funded or Exempt employees only); or
  • on an Alternative Work Schedule (AWS) day off or other non-workday.

Except as noted in the discussion above:
Emergency Employees are expected to report to their worksite unless otherwise directed by their agencies.

Telework Employees (i.e., employees who are participating in a telework program, including those who perform telework regularly and those who telework on an ad hoc basis) generally may not receive weather and safety leave. They must account for the entire workday by teleworking, taking unscheduled leave (paid or unpaid) or other paid time off, or a combination, in accordance with law, regulations, agency policies and procedures, and any applicable collective bargaining requirements (as consistent with law).

Leave. In general, an employee on preapproved leave (paid or unpaid) or other paid time off should continue to be charged leave or other paid time off and should not receive weather and safety leave.

(Posted on January 13, 2019 at 8:45 PM)

Trump Shutdown Day #24: Cartoonists Draw Insane Weeks For Federal Hostages

Posted: 12:52 am EST

Despite shutdown, Pompeo to go on with ambassadors conference to meet his 180+ field commanders, to look them in the eye

Also, who’s fast depleting  Diplomatic Security’s residual funds?

 

Secretary Pompeo told reporters at his stop in Abu Dhabi that morale at the State Department is good despite the shutdown (see Pompeo says “morale is good”. C’mon now, it’s swaggeryfuck good!). It’s so good that despite the shutdown, and State Department personnel being furloughed or working with no pay, he will still host the ambassadors’ conference, officially called the Global Chiefs of Mission Conference in D.C. next week. Via AP:

“It’s something that we’ve had teed up for a while,” he said. “It is incredibly important that they hear directly from me. It’s an important opportunity for me to get in front of 180-plus of my commanders in the field to look them in the eye and describe to them what it is we’re doing and how it is I expect them to do that.”
[…]
Almost half of the State Department employees in the United States and about one-quarter abroad have been furloughed during the shutdown. With the exception of certain local employees overseas, the rest are working without pay, including those tasked with supporting Pompeo’s trip, which has thus far taken him to Jordan, Iraq, Egypt and Bahrain.

An excerpt from Secretary Pompeo’s January 11 message to agency employees posted on the state.gov website also says this:

We are also committed to hosting the Global Chiefs of Mission Conference in Washington, D.C. next week. Bringing together the men and women who lead our overseas diplomatic missions is essential to successfully achieving our unified mission of advancing America’s foreign policy.

Even though the Secretary’s people are quite prolific, that’s  the only Miles With Mike update we’ve seen posted online. The message is posted under  the “M” press releases but not even clearly labeled. We are guessing that we’re seeing this in the public website because furloughed employees do not have access to their government email.

In any case, the State Department — despite the poor, no good, terrible optics — will go on with the Global Chiefs of Mission conference come rain or shine, shutdown or not, rapture or not, pay or no pay. Below via FP:

The State Department has decided to move forward with a major conference for all U.S. chiefs of mission and ambassadors abroad—there are 188—who will descend on Washington from Jan. 15 to 18 for a slew of meetings and receptions. Organizing the conference is a massive logistical undertaking, and bureaus at the State Department are pulling in furloughed employees to work overtime, with no pay, to set up the conference.
[…]
The spokesman noted travel for conference was arranged and funded prior to the government shutdown. The spokesperson called the timing of the conference “crucial to the safety, security, and prosperity of the United States” and added: “Given that the Senate has just confirmed 23 ambassadors, this conference is particularly important and timely in helping them get off to the right start as they assume their duties immediately.”

Just because this was funded before the shutdown, doesn’t mean they absolutely must go on with it during the shutdown. Are they afraid that this shutdown will go on for years, and there will not be a 2019 GCOM conference? The spox called the timing of this conference “crucial to the safety, security, and prosperity of the United States”, then my golly, what do we call the timing of the shutdown that’s now entering its fourth week?

Also the latest ambassador confirmations — except for the two going to Australia and Kenya respectively, are all career diplomats who are not going on their first overseas appointments. Using them as an excuse is just lame, yo!

As of January 4, President Trump has made 136 ambassadorial appointments (67 political and 69 career appointees).  The State Department’s new  Furlough Guidance notes the pay status/exception for Presidential Appointees:

According to OPM, individuals appointed by the President, with or without Senate confirmation, who otherwise are not subject to 5 U.S.C. 6301 and attendant regulations governing leave in the Federal service, are not subject to furlough. The salary of such a Presidential appointee is an obligation incurred by the year, without consideration of hours of duty required. Thus, the Presidential appointee cannot be placed in a nonduty, nonpay status. If a Presidential appointee, however, chooses to be in a nonpay status, the appointee may return part of his salary to the employing agency, provided that the agency has authority to accept gifts, or to the Treasury. Regardless of the Presidential appointee’s choice, the appointee’s entire salary is recorded for tax purposes. The following exceptions must be noted: former career Senior Executive Service (SES) appointees who took appointments at level V of the Executive Schedule or higher and elected to retain SES leave benefits under 5 U.S.C. 3392(c), are subject to furlough at the discretion of the agency. Also, Presidential appointees to positions requiring Senate confirmation, for example ambassadors, who choose to retain SFS/SES pay and benefits are subject to furlough at the discretion of the responsible Assistant Secretary, e.g. when absent on leave.

So the political appointees attending this big do in D.C. will be on paid status, while career appointees including approximately 50 chargé d’affaires are possibly deemed onduty and on nonpay status. All participants are flying to D.C., staying at DC hotels, and will have meal & incidental expenses paid for. The event will be supported by either employees working with no pay, or furloughed employees recalled “to work overtime, with no pay, to set up the conference.”

Of course, we can imagine that the support staff will be pumping with pride and joy — and who wouldn’t?

Here they are living the life they’ve always wanted, their dysfunctional government without care is in shutdown, they’re working with no pay, and they are supporting the 70th secretary of state meeting his 180-plus commanders in the field so he can look them in the eye, before he send them off to battle.  Or something. There will be talks, and at some “glitzy cocktail receptions at four-star hotels” (reportedly not organized or paid for by the State Department), there will be food, and drinks for the guests and the field commanders. There will be photos, of course, except — wait, are official photographers considered “essential” for this event?

If morale is “good” now, we can imagine it will be fuckityfuck great when this is all over. Now, you don’t need a survey to know that so no need to hire $M-dollar consultants to perform a survey on morale after the GCOM.

Meanwhile, about the Diplomatic Security’s residual funds …

We’ve blogged previously about what accounts are funded at the State Department during the shutdown.  One of those funded is Diplomatic Security which has already urged begged posts for the “prudent use of overtime” to slow down the drawdown of its residual funding. We don’t’ know how much “available balance” is there in this bureau.  But we’ve wondered out loud (others quietly) how long will the State Department be able to pay for its local employees including local security guards at 277 overseas posts without regular funding? See #TrumpShutdown Enters 18th Day, At Least $2.5B in Costs and Counting, With No End in Sight. For potential cascading impact if Diplomatic Security is unable to make payroll for guards, see What happens after pay period #26?

Secretary Pompeo has been on foreign travel from January 8-15. The trip is taking him and his wife to 1) Amman, Jordan; 2) Baghdad, Iraq; 3) Erbil, Iraq; 4) Cairo, Egypt; 5) Manama, Bahrain; 6) Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates; 7) Doha, Qatar; 8) Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; 9) Muscat, Oman; and 10) Kuwait City, Kuwait.

Not only are essential/not paid employees supporting this travel, Diplomatic Security agents from the State Department and at these overseas locations must be racking up their overtime. How much overtime? Somebody please FOIA that.

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