Exempt, not Essential

October 4, 2013

When several Secret Service and Capitol Hill police officers put their lives on the line in the tragic events of Thursday, several good reporters noted that these workers were not getting paid because of the current standoff caused by House Speaker John Boehner’s insistence on shutting down the government.  Unfortunately, some reporters said that the workers were on duty because they were “essential” personnel. Though they are essential, essential to their mission of protecting the president and Congress, all government workers are essential to the mission of their agencies. These workers are being ordered to work even though there is no authority to pay them, because of an attorney general’s ruling during the Carter administration. These workers are doing jobs that are exempted from the Anti-Deficiency Act prohibition of authorizing government expenditures without congressional budget authority.

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