State Dept. asks employees to return to work amid shutdown

The State Department on Thursday ordered employees and U.S. diplomats abroad to return to work, saying it would make additional funds available to pay most employee salaries for two weeks.

"As a national security agency, it is imperative that the Department of State carries out its mission. We are best positioned to do so with fully staffed embassies, consulates, and domestic offices," Deputy Under Secretary for Management Bill Todd said in a statement. 

The State Department has been among a number of federal agencies affected by the shutdown that started Dec. 22. Roughly 23 percent of the State Department’s direct hire employees overseas and 40 percent of those operating domestically have been furloughed, meaning they are not being paid and aren't ordered to come to work. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Todd said that employees would be paid for work performed during the two-week pay period starting Sunday, Jan. 20, including domestic workers and those at U.S. diplomatic posts overseas. He said employees would be paid for their work on time on Feb. 14, and that the department would thereafter “review balances and available legal authorities to try to cover future pay periods.”

The State Department “expects to be able to resume most personnel operations and fund most salaries,” Todd said, while offering no specific details on where the money would come from.

Employees will not receive paychecks for the first several weeks of the shutdown until a new funding bill is approved.

A State Department spokesperson told The Hill that the department’s management, budget and legal teams had located the funds “through a review of the Department’s available balances." Additional details on where the funds emerged have not been released.

Overseas bureaus and consulates will still need to conform to “strict budget constraints” for travel and contracts as the shutdown continues, Todd emphasized Thursday.

The partial government shutdown entered its 27th day on Thursday with no signs of a deal between President TrumpDonald John TrumpAlaska Republican Party cancels 2020 primary Ukrainian official denies Trump pressured president Trump goes after New York Times, Washington Post: 'They have gone totally CRAZY!!!!' MORE and congressional Democrats. Trump has demanded over $5 billion to build a wall on the U.S. southern border with Mexico. 

Updated: 2:05 p.m.