Government agencies begin to feel stress of shutdown - NEWS10 ABC: Albany, New York News, Weather, Sports

Government agencies begin to feel stress of shutdown


The partial government shutdown has now lasted one full week, and there is no end in sight. There have been no real negotiations between the President and Republicans, and now the shutdown is beginning to take its toll on some government agencies.

The Department of Veterans Affairs is exempt from furloughs but that may change Tuesday. An estimated 7,000 workers will be furloughed today, and access to all regional offices will be suspended.

As a result of the furlough, walk-ins and phone calls to regional offices to receive status reports on benefits will cease.

The VA says the government shutdown has interfered with cutting down on the backlog of disability and pensions claims due to the VA no longer requiring disability claims workers to work overtime.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is also expected to begin furloughs Thursday of around 3,900 employees if the shutdown has not ended retaining only 300 essential personnel.

The Federal Aviation Administration, however, is bringing back 800 furloughed employees, including some safety inspectors.

Despite these employees returning to work, there is still not a timeline on when they will be paid.

The House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill over the weekend to give retro pay to workers on furlough or who are currently working without pay. The Senate is supposed to vote this week on the bill, but it has stalled.

U.S. military facilities are also calling back workers. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered nearly all 350,000 civilian employees back to work.

325 medical workers and 250 garrison employees were called back to work at Fort Drum Monday, and West Point Military Academy is back to full staff with more than 1,400 civilian employees returning to work.

The defense employee recall stems from the Pay Our Military Act passed by Congress and signed by the President at the start of the shutdown. The bill allows the Pentagon to pay troops and some civilian employees deemed to be support service personnel.

While employees returning to work may be a step toward resolution, the United States could default on its debt for the first time in history if the debt ceiling is not raised by October 17. Democrats controlling the Senate say they are have developed a new plan to avoid this issue.

Democrats are trying to pass a stand-alone measure to increase the government's borrowing cap. A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid could unveil the measure as early as Tuesday setting the table for a test vote later in the week. This would challenge Republicans to a filibuster showdown and could also unnerve financial markets.

The measure is expected to provide enough borrowing room to last beyond next year's election.

All of this comes ahead of Treasury Secretary Jack Lew's Thursday's scheduled testimony before the Senate Finance Committee. Lew is expected to make the case that the nation's $16.7 trillion borrowing limit should be raised with no strings attached to avoid a U.S. default.

Meanwhile, the back-and-forth between President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner continues just not face-to-face as the two have not met to negotiate. There have also not been any bipartisan meetings and there are none planned.

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