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Who will decide who still gets paid if the government shuts down?

Updated: Thursday, September 26 2013, 07:25 PM CDT
Reported by Kristine Frazao:

It is becoming clear that barring 11th hour concessions, it will not be business as usual in the nation's capital come next Tuesday.

A shutdown looms large right now.

If the showdown in Congress over a new spending bill is a high stakes card game, then it's the president who holds the best hand, and it’s not a great one at that.

"In a government shutdown no one has an ideal hand, the executive branch has some discretion," explained Executive Vice President Pete Sepp of the National Taxpayers Union.

Pete Sepp with the National Taxpayers Union says what employees stay on the job and which ones are furloughed is largely in the hands of Barack Obama.

Precedents created during the Carter and Reagan administrations made it clear, the president decides which government workers are essential for protecting life and property. 

But because those precedents are not legally binding, the president can take great latitude with his choices.

For example, Obama could furlough fewer Health and Human Services employees to carry out parts of the Affordable Care Act, in the name of health and security. 

"The types of principles that can exempt a given federal employee can be quite broadly interpreted," stated Sepp.

About two-thirds of federal government spending goes toward paying interest on debt, as well as mandatory programs funded by annual appropriations that don't expire. Obamacare happens to be one of them.

"Shutdown or no shutdown, the bureaucratic machinery always grinds on, it has a life of its own," Sepp concluded.

If Obama follows in former President Bill Clinton's footsteps during the shutdown in 1996, Obama could reclassify some programs to fit the definition of ‘what is 'essential' and Obama, like Clinton, can even move some mandatory spending money around to other agencies.  

No matter your opinion on the government shutdown or health care reform, you can take part in the process.

Voice your opinion to our elected lawmakers by clicking on the link on our website.
Who will decide who still gets paid if the government shuts down?

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