US federal employees ordered back to work

17 October 2013 14:56  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS)--The White House ordered some 800,000 furloughed federal employees back to work early on Thursday after President Barack Obama signed legislation to restore government spending authority and raise the debt limit.

Obama signed the crucial bill about 30 minutes after midnight Thursday morning, preventing what otherwise would have been a federal government default.

About 15 minutes later, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a directive telling all furloughed federal workers to return to their jobs as soon as possible on Thursday.

OMB director Sylvia Burwell asked that “all departments and agencies make the transition back to full operating status as smooth as possible”.

“You should reopen offices in a prompt and orderly manner,” she told federal workers.

The bill approved by Congress and signed by Obama restores the federal government’s authority to spend money, but only until 15 January 2014, just 13 weeks away.

The measure also raised the limit on how much money the federal government may legally borrow, but that provision also is on a short timeline and is set to expire on 7 February.

The bill, HR-2775, the “Continuing Appropriations Act of 2014”, also sets up a joint House and Senate budget committee to find long-term solutions to federal fiscal problems - large annual budget deficits and a federal debt that now exceeds $17tn (€12.6tn).

Many Washington observers are concerned that Congress and the White House will again be locked in yet another shutdown crisis when the debt limit and spending extensions come close to expiration in January and February.

($1 = €0.74)

Paul Hodges studies key influences shaping the chemical industry in Chemicals and the Economy

By: Joe Kamalick
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