With a temporary funding bill keeping the government open for the next three weeks, New York federal employees are heading back to work with the possibility of more strife looming overhead. Already, White House insiders report that President Trump would be willing to let the government close a second time, once this funding runs out on Feb. 15.
“Personally, I think the next time they want to do a government shutdown, they should cut Congress’ funding first,” a Manhattan Detention Center worker told the New York Post. “They don’t want to figure it out? Cut their funding.”
Federal agencies report that furloughed workers will receive their back pay in lump sums by the end of the week, totaling more than $6 billion in unpaid wages since the shutdown began on December 22, 2018. However, this does not include federal subcontractors, many of whom are paid low enough that two missed paychecks could lead to serious consequences like home loss.
What’s open in NYC now that the shutdown is over?
Most government employees in New York will be returning to work on Monday, but the same can’t be said for the agencies they represent. Newark, JFK and LaGuardia employees are working as usual, with some residual delays from air traffic controllers calling in sick en masse on Friday, which some credit as contributing to the shutdown coming to a close.
National Park Service and Smithsonian employees are returning to work, and for the most part will be open as normal on Monday. The Smithsonian Institution’s two locations in NYC, the National Museum of the American Indian and the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum, will stay closed for another day, opening on Tuesday instead.
According to The Washington Post, a fire started in the Sagamore Hill National Historic Site gift shop and, though put out by firefighters, was not properly cleaned up while the government was shut down.
The Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and Castle Clinton were kept open during the entire shutdown period by special order by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration, which shelled out the $65,000 per day needed to keep the facilities up and running.
While National Parks Service employees across the country have had to deal with backlogs of litter cleanup and unplowed snow, several New York parks saw upswells of volunteer support during the shutdown to keep the nature preserves free of trash.
For many federal employees, it’s a waiting game. Though they are returning to work and can expect their next paycheck as normal on Feb. 8 or 9, the bipartisan temporary funding bill runs out on Feb. 15, at which point, as Trump wrote on Twitter, “it’s off to the races.”
Unless a more permanent solution is reached, there is nothing stopping the GOP administration from holding paychecks hostage for a border wall, again.