Obama Stripped to Skeleton Staff in a Government Shutdown
About three-fourths of president’s 1,701-person staff would be sent home. The national security team would be cut back, fewer economists would be tracking the economy and there wouldn’t be as many budget officials to track spending. White House policy decisions on the environment and drug policy might get postponed, as the executive mansion struggles to cope with a shutdown of the government.
“If Congress chooses not to pass a budget by Monday -- the end of the fiscal year -- they will shut down the government, along with many vital services that the American people depend on,” Obama said yesterday in the White House briefing room.
Lawmakers have reached an impasse in their search for compromise legislation to fund the government. The House and Senate have passed different versions of the bill, which must be reconciled and approved by the Oct. 1 start of the new fiscal year or the government would shut down.
The congressional dispute would leave the White House with a bare-bones staff, according to the plan submitted Sept. 26.
The executive office of the president would designate approximately 436 employees as “excepted,” or exempt from furlough to perform their jobs. The remaining 1,265 employees would be sent home.
The president and Vice President Joe Biden are exempt from furlough.
Work will continue “with a limited number of employees to sustain minimal excepted operations,” according to the plan.
Like other agencies, most White House workers are being directed to work on the first day of the shutdown for about four hours winding down activities, securing and closing computer files before going home.
Top White House aides, political appointees and officials requiring Senate confirmation are permitted to work. Of the total, 438 people work directly for the president. Under a shutdown, 129 could continue working, according to the contingency plan.
Biden, who has a staff of 24, would have had to make do with 12.
Of the 90 people who maintain the president’s family living quarters, only 15 would remain to provide “minimum maintenance and support.”
Obama’s national security staff of 66 would be cut to 42. Similar staff cuts would be imposed at the White House Office of Management and Budget, the Council on Environmental Quality, the Council of Economic Advisers and the Office of National Drug Control Policy, which are all part of the president’s executive office.
Agencies throughout the federal government have submitted contingency plans to the budget office to be implemented in the event of a shutdown. It marks the second time in Obama’s presidency this has happened -- many of this year’s plans track closely with preparations put together during a similar scenario in 2011.