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Monday, October 28, 2013

FY2014 Appropriations Lapse and the Department of Homeland Security: Impact and Legislation

William L. Painter
Analyst in Emergency Management and Homeland Security Policy

Absent legislation providing appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for FY2014, the Department implemented a shutdown furlough on October 1, 2013. Operations of different components were affected to varying degrees by the shutdown. While an estimated 31,295 employees were furloughed, roughly 85% of the department’s workforce continued with their duties that day, due to exceptions identified in current interpretations of law. Some DHS employees have since been recalled to work since the furloughs began on the basis of unanticipated needs (such as disaster preparedness activities) or the enactment of appropriations legislation.

While the DHS shutdown contingency plan’s data on staffing and exemptions from furloughs is not a perfect metric for the broad impacts of the lapse in annual appropriations, some of the data provided by DHS lend a perspective on some of the effects on the department’s staffing and operations as the funding gap continues.

Even though most of DHS continues to work through the shutdown, most of the department’s civilian employees are not being paid. A handful of activities are paid for through multi-year appropriations or other revenues, however, and employees working in those programs are continuing to be paid on schedule.

Several pieces of legislation have been introduced that would impact the funding status of the department, allowing it to either pay employees or restore operations to varying degrees. The one measure enacted as of this writing, the Pay Our Military Act (P.L. 113-39), returned almost 5,800 furloughed Coast Guard civilian employees to work and restored pay for active military personnel and the civilian federal employees and the contractors that support them.

This report examines the DHS contingency plan and the potential impacts of a lapse in annual appropriations on DHS operations, focusing primarily on the emergency furlough of personnel, and then discusses seven legislative vehicles that have mitigated or have the potential to mitigate those same impacts. 

Annual Appropriations: 

  • H.R. 2217—the Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2014 
Continuing Resolutions: 

  • H.J.Res. 59—the Continuing Appropriations Resolution, 2014 
  • H.J.Res. 79—the Border Security and Enforcement Continuing Appropriations Resolution, 2014 
  • H.J.Res. 85—the Federal Emergency Management Agency Continuing Appropriations Resolution, 2014 
  • H.J.Res. 89—the Excepted Employees’ Pay Continuing Appropriations Resolution, 2014 
Automatic Continuing Resolution: 

  • H.R. 3210 (P.L. 113-39)—the Pay Our Military Act 
Authorizing Legislation: 

  • H.R. 3223—the Federal Employee Retroactive Pay Fairness Act 
This report will be updated as events warrant.

Date of Report: October 11, 2013
Number of Pages: 22
Order Number: R43252
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