Oct. 1 - Up to one million workers are on unpaid leave as of Tuesday because of the partial U.S. government shutdown. Conway G. Gittens reports.
The Daily Digit today is one million. Up to one million workers are on unpaid leave as of Tuesday because of the partial U.S. government shutdown. Bill Holmes works at the federally-funded National Museum of African Art in Washington D.C. (SOUNDBITE) BILL HOLMES, WORKS AT THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AFRICAN ART (ENGLISH) SAYING: "This is just a bad situation and really, personally, as a federal employee we've paid our costs towards the financial recovery. I mean, we haven't had a cost of living increase in about four to five years. Most agencies have a freeze on hiring, so this just complicates things and compounds things." Like Holmes, most of the furloughed workers, have jobs at federally operated museums such as the Smithsonian, national parks, overseas offices that issue visas to people who want to visit the United States, federal regulatory agencies, IRS call centers and agencies that handle federal grants and contracts to name a few. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid: (SOUNDBITE) SENATE MAJORITY LEADER HARRY REID (ENGLISH) SAYING: "All over America, federal employees are, they were given four hours this morning to clear off their emails, computers, close down their offices, all over America. They were asked to come to work at 8 o'clock this morning. By noon, they are out of their offices." But some of the government employees will stay put. Spending for essential functions related to national security and public safety will continue, including pay for U.S. military troops. Oddly enough another group that still gets paid - lawmakers responsible for the shutdown! It's unclear how long the shutdown is going to last, and there is no clear plan to break the impasse. If Congress can agree to a new funding bill soon, the shutdown would last days rather than weeks. Some analysts say a brief government shutdown - and a resulting backlash against lawmakers - could cool Republican demands for a showdown over the debt limit later in the month.