What to Know in Washington: Shutdown Would Hinder Hill Staff Pay

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Congressional staffers are waiting to see whether they’ll get an “essential” designation if the government shuts down in two weeks — which would force them to remain at the Capitol without pay for high-stakes negotiations and expected questions from constituents about possible delays in federal services.

Some lawmakers plan to keep all or most of their staffers in the office if government funding runs out at the end of the month. And while a 2019 law guarantees back pay for all federal employees either furloughed or deemed essential, there’s growing anxiety among low-paid staffers about what their lives will look like if a shutdown drags on. Lawmakers would receive their full pay during a shutdown.

The U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

The Congressional Workers Union, a group advocating for better working conditions on the Hill, is giving its members guidance on how to ask for advance payments to help weather a possible shutdown. Some offices, like Rep. Maxwell Frost’s (D-Fla.), are paying end-of-year holiday bonuses early to give staffers a cushion.

House members from both parties said they plan to keep most or all of their employees at work if there’s a shutdown, contending that their offices will need more manpower than ever. Being categorized as essential ensures staff will be required to stick around for some of the busiest days of the legislative session.

The rules governing congressional staff during a shutdown are different from government agencies, meaning how employees are categorized will vary based on their bosses discretion. While agencies are forced to shutter non-essential operations once government funding runs out, constitutional functions are still allowed, said Harvard Law visiting professor Zachary Price.

Hill staffers keep working because they’re “assisting the constitutional functions of their bosses in a way that the funding lapse can’t prevent,” Price said. Read more from Maeve Sheehey.

UN Agenda Topped by Ukraine War, Climate Fight

Global leaders descend upon New York City this week for the Sept. 19-26 UN General Assembly session meant to tackle the world’s biggest problems.

The leaders of China and Russia won’t be attending, but Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi will — a decision that’s expected to trigger a protest near UN headquarters. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is looking to keep up allied support for his defense against Russia’s invasion, and hopefully woo new allies like Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Small island nations in the Pacific Ocean will urge others to take action on rising ocean levels and other symptoms of climate change that threaten their very existence. Courtney McBride highlights what to watch during this hectic week.

  • China’s Vice President Han Zheng told Secretary of State Antony Blinken that both sides need to meet each other halfway in a meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly yesterday. Read more.


  • The president will deliver remarks at the UN General Assembly in New York at 10 a.m.
  • Biden greets UN General Assembly President Dennis Francis of Trinidad and Tobago and meets with UN Secretary-General António Guterres after 11 a.m..
  • The president will host a meeting of Central Asian nations shortly before 2 p.m.
  • Shortly after 7 p.m. the president and First Lady Jill Biden will host a leader’s reception at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.


  • The House is back at noon to tee up bills including on defense spending.
  • Senators return at 10 a.m. to vote on judges for Connecticut and California.
  • For the full detailed agenda read BGOV’s Congress Tracker.

Happening on Capitol Hill

Cruz Says ‘Heavy-Handed’ Approach Would Hinder AI Innovation

The US must lead the world on AI, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) asserted — and risks losing its advantage if Congress imposes “heavy-handed” regulations sought by Democrats and some Republicans.

House Republicans Delay Vote to Fill Appropriations Panel Seat

Several Republicans vying for a set on the powerful House Appropriations Committee will have to wait a while loner to find out who gets the nod after House Republicans canceled an internal vote to fill the vacancy.

‘Surveillance Advertising’ Ban Introduced by Group of Democrats

A group of House and Senate Democrats yesterday introduced legislation that would ban advertising practices based on the collection of personal data that is used by social media platforms.

People, Power, and Politics

UAW Warns Strikes Could Expand Friday

The United Auto Workers said more of its members will go on strike at General Motors, Ford, and Stellantisfacilities starting at noon Friday unless substantial headway is made toward new labor contracts.

  • Layoffs have begun in response to the UAW’s selective strike, revealing the intricacies of employer power and labor rights. Read more.
  • Donald Trump will visit Detroit on the day of the second Republican primary debate, scheduled for Sept. 27, in a bid to court striking UAW members. Read more.

Biden Targets Racial Wealth Gap at NY Fundraiser

Biden said he was committed to closing the racial wealth gap at a campaign fundraiser hosted by prominent Black business leaders in New York yesterday, seeking to highlight the economic gains for Americans under his administration.

Defense and Homeland Security

National Security Team to Guide Homeland Intelligence Arm

The Department of Homeland Security is set to unveil the Homeland Intelligence Experts Group today, according to an announcement first obtained by Bloomberg Government. The lineup includes more than a dozen former government officials, as well as human rights and civil liberties advocates and a journalist whom DHS once targeted.

Debris Spotted in Search for Missing US F-35 Fighter Jet

Wreckage has been discovered after an intense hunt for a $100 million Marine F-35 fighter jet that disappeared after its pilot ejected from the aircraft during a training mission over South Carolina. The military’s inability to track the sophisticated aircraft raised questions about whether its transponder was working properly.

To contact the reporters on this story: Brandon Lee in Washington at blee@bgov.com; Giuseppe Macri in Washington at gmacri@bgov.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kayla Sharpe at ksharpe@bloombergindustry.com

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