Who are you calling non-essential? Revelations of a government shutdown

April 7, 2011

There’s always been a lot of talk about the haves and have-nots.

These days in Washington it’s about the essentials and non-essentials. USA/

The two classes of federal workers would be starkly revealed by a government shutdown if Congress and the White House fail to reach an agreement on spending by midnight Friday.

Those deemed to be non-essential, an estimated 800,000 federal workers, would be furloughed if the government shuts down as it did 15 years ago.

Here are some comments from “non-essential” workers on CNNMoney.com and the Huffington Post.

So what happens to non-essential employees (or “non-excepted” in government speak)? The White House Office of Management and Budget spells out the no-working rules: no working remotely such as from home, which means no using federal agency¬† Blackberries, cell phones, computers, and laptops.

On the semantics of the essential versus non-essential, Jeff Zients, OMB deputy director for management, said: “I think the easiest way to think about it is furloughed and non-furloughed employees.”

Hold on, what’s this? President Barack Obama has just declared next week National Volunteer Week.

“I call upon all Americans to observe this week by volunteering in service projects across our country and pledging to make service a part of their daily lives,” Obama said in the proclamation.


Photo credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque (Senate subway rail tracks)

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