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Angst About Shutdown Grows for Personnel

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House Administration Chairman Dan Lungren said Wednesday that his staff has been researching and conducting meetings in private on procedures for a possible government shutdown.

The prospect of a government shutdown looms closer by the day, but Congressional support agencies and their committees of jurisdiction have yet to issue public directives to Members and employees about what to do in the event that a funding deal isn’t reached.

House Administration Chairman Dan Lungren said Wednesday that his staff has been researching and conducting meetings in private on the subject for weeks, looking into whether cafeterias, subways and other Congressional amenities should keep their doors open and how Members should staff their offices.

But he said no public guidelines have been released out of trepidation that they will be misinterpreted.

“Once we have a final operating procedure, we’ll make it known to people, but I don’t want to alarm people or to unnecessarily suggest that I’m working for, or anyone is working for, a government shutdown,” the California Republican said. “I’m still going to work under the proposition that we’re going to get our act together and we won’t have a government shutdown.”

The government is operating under a continuing resolution that expires April 8, and House and Senate leaders are working behind closed doors to forge a budget compromise.

Lungren said he has no timeline by which he hopes to disseminate information.

But freshman Rep. Rich Nugent, a member of the House Administration panel, said Wednesday that he is seeking a meeting with Lungren to urge him to solidify some kind of instructions by the end of the week and release them as soon as possible after that.

“Whether it’s us or leadership, someone needs to come up with a definitive answer with regards to what’s going to be affected and how it’s going to be affected,” the Florida Republican said. “We need to get something out so everybody’s singing off the same page, so we all know what’s going on, so you don’t have someone over here in right field saying something that is not true.”

Nugent said he has been doing research on his own and has asked the Congressional Research Service to illuminate the procedures that his office should take in the event of a shutdown. Members with whom he has spoken, especially other freshmen, are misinformed about what exactly their duties are as employers if a budget deal is not reached, he said.

Thousands of Congressional staffers and employees of the support agencies are similarly in the dark about what would happen if the CR expires.

Staffers said they are anxious about whether they would be called in to work and receive a late paycheck or be furloughed and miss their wages altogether.

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