Thanksgiving: Whose heads will roll?

Wednesday - 10/5/2011, 2:00am EDT

If the past is prologue, the Thanksgiving turkeys delivered to the White House will, after a brief photo op, be given the usual presidential pardon and then retired to live at the avian equivalent of Sun City or Leisure World.

But unlike the lucky turkeys, federal workers from Arlington to Afghanistan are worried about their mission, their pay and benefits and, in some cases, their jobs.

Like most federal operations — from the IRS to the Pentagon — the foreign service community is hoping for the best but bracing for the worst from Congress. That includes the State Department's 12,900 foreign service staffers plus employees of the Agency for International Development, U.S. Information Agency and overseas operations at Agriculture, Customs, Justice and other agencies with worldwide responsibilities.

Thanks to Congress' failure to approve budgets, most federal agencies are running on auxiliary power through the middle of next month. Technically, the government should have shut down over the weekend. But a little wink-and-a-nudge agreement between the House and Senate let 24/7 operations — like national defense, homeland security and air traffic service — continue while Congress was finalizing yet another continuing resolution.

Even the most vocal and vehement critics of big government like having clean water, clean air, untainted steaks, weather updates and planes that don't run into each other at 35,000 feet. They also like the police protection they have (and increasingly need) at the office and even when (briefly going green and symbolically) biking to work surrounded by four police cars.

Federal agencies are also bracing for what the so-called bipartisan super Congressional committee will propose in the way of cuts that will be announced next month, around Thanksgiving. So what's in it for you and your job?

At 10 a.m. today, our Your Turn radio show guest is Susan R. Johnson. She's president of the American Foreign Service Association and a career senior FS officer who has worked in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Iraq and Russia. She'll talk about the budget squeeze on overseas operations which — like many other federal agencies — have relatively few friends in Congress.

At 10:30 a.m. we'll hear from Federal Timesmen Stephen Losey and Sean Reilly. They'll talk about the U.S. Postal Service proposal to set up its own health plan, buyout news from the ATF and other agencies, and how budget cuts could threaten law enforcement activities.

You can listen live by clicking here. Or if you are in the D.C. area you can get us on old-time radio at 1500 AM. If you have questions or comments, you can call us at (202) 465-3080 or email me at mcausey@federalnewsradio.com. The show will be archived here.


NEARLY USELESS FACTOID

By Jack Moore

Rubbing a balloon on your head to make it stick to the wall is just good, clean fun for many. But for the few people afflicted with Hair Brushing Syndrome, it could be deadly, The UK Daily Mail reports. The rare malady triggers potentially fatal reactions to static. A 13-year-old British girl diagnosed with the condition has taken to only brushing her hair when wet to avoid a dangerous static build-up.


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