How the government will reopen

How the government will reopen

Nine federal agencies are in the process of reopening after the longest government shutdown in U.S. history ended Friday after 35 days.

President TrumpDonald TrumpRealClearPolitics reporter says Freedom Caucus shows how much GOP changed under Trump Jake Ellzey defeats Trump-backed candidate in Texas House runoff DOJ declines to back Mo Brooks's defense against Swalwell's Capitol riot lawsuit MORE agreed to fully reopen the government for three weeks — until Feb. 15 — as part of a deal that did not include money for a border wall, which had been the top sticking point in funding talks for weeks.

While funding snaps back into place for large swaths of the federal government, roughly 25 percent of which was affected by the shutdown, some affected entities are expected to take at least several days to become fully operational.


Here's a look at how the government will fully reopen following the funding deal:

Back pay for federal workers

Roughly 800,000 federal workers were either furloughed or forced to work without pay during the shutdown that began Dec. 22, with many workers missing two full paychecks.

Trump signed a bill last week directing federal agencies to issue back pay to workers “at the earliest date possible” once the government reopened.

But a senior administration official told The Hill on Friday that the earliest possible date for back pay depends on the agency.

“Recognizing the urgency of getting federal employees paid quickly, the administration is taking steps to ensure that they receive pay as soon as possible,” the official said.

The official added that "employees can find more information about paycheck details by reaching out to their agency."

The situation for federal contractors is much murkier. Many contractors, who tend to work in low-wage positions, like janitors and security guards at federal buildings, were not guaranteed back pay in the bill passed last week.

Sen. Tina SmithTina Flint SmithFauci: Paul doesn't know what he's talking about Clean electricity standard should be a no brainer amid extreme climate impacts Overnight Energy: Democrats reach budget deal including climate priorities | Europe planning to cut emissions 55 percent by 2030 | Army Corps nominee pledges not to politicize DAPL environmental review MORE (D-Minn.) proposed a bill to give back pay to contractors, but that legislation has yet to be approved.

Various agencies set to immediately reopen

Nine departments had their operations directly affected by the shutdown: Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, State, Transportation and Treasury.


The Office of Management and Budget released a memo Friday directing affected agencies to "reopen offices in a prompt and orderly manner" after the three-week funding measure was signed. But exactly when various agencies will be fully operational again remains unclear.

The Department of Homeland Security "has plans in place to fully reopen the Department once funds become available," agency spokesman Tyler Houlton told The Hill on Saturday. "Those plans are being implemented."

"Nearly 90 percent of our employees have been working without pay throughout the shutdown. We are excited to have furloughed employees back their next normal workday after the legislation is signed, and pleased that all employees – including those who have been working without pay for more than five weeks – will be receiving paychecks soon,” Houlton added.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny PerdueSonny PerdueOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Supreme Court rules that pipeline can seize land from New Jersey | Study: EPA underestimated methane emissions from oil and gas development | Kevin McCarthy sets up task forces on climate, other issues The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Georgia election day is finally here; Trump hopes Pence 'comes through for us' to overturn results Civil war between MAGA, GOP establishment could hand Dems total control MORE said in a statement Friday that with the shutdown agreement in place "we will prepare for a smooth reestablishment of USDA functions."

A spokeswoman from Interior told The Hill that time it would take a worker to be back at normal speed was variable. 

“Depending on the nature of an individual's job, they might be able to get back to 'normal operations' in a matter of hours or it might take days,” Faith Vander Voort said. “In a number of cases there would probably be work that had backed up during the shutdown, and it might take some time to work down that backlog one the worker gets back up to their normal operating condition.”

While other agencies like the Department of Transportation are also reopening, some components, like air traffic controllers, could continue to be affected after funding restarts.

Doug Church, a spokesman with National Air Traffic Controllers Association, told The Hill that there will likely be hurdles to seeing operations return to normal.

"It will be like starting up a 150-car freight train and getting it to full speed," he said. "It's going to require a lot of time and a lot of track."

Church cited new training and stalled modernization efforts as reasons why the return could be difficult.

On Friday, hours before the funding deal was announced, flights into LaGuardia Airport in New York City were temporarily halted because of staffing shortages related to the shutdown. 

Other affected agencies set to receive full funding include the IRS, but the effects of the shutdown could impact the timeliness of certain services.

The Washington Post reported Saturday that some experts believe the IRS will take more than a year to get back up to speed.

The IRS reportedly has a backlog of 5 million pieces of mail from taxpayers, and has to train employees on Trump's new tax code despite tax season starting Monday.

Smithsonian museums and national parks reopen

The Smithsonian museums and National Zoo are slated to reopen on Tuesday, Jan. 29, according to a statement posted on their website.

The Smithsonian had remained open for the first 11 days of the shutdown, but closed on Jan. 2.

Smithsonian Secretary David J. Skorton said that the shutdown cost his institution $1 million a week in lost revenue.

The National Park Service is preparing to resume regular service, but the schedule for reopening individual parks is based on "staff size and complexity of operations."

"Many parks which have been accessible throughout the lapse in appropriations remain accessible with basic services," Deputy Parks Director P. Daniel Smith said in a statement.

"Some parks which have been closed throughout the lapse in appropriations may not reopen immediately, but we will work to open all parks as quickly as possible," he added.

Next steps for Trump

House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiHouse to resume mask mandate after new CDC guidance McCarthy pulls GOP picks off House economic panel GOP up in arms over Cheney, Kinzinger MORE (D-Calif.) asked Trump to delay his annual State of the Union address until after the shutdown had been resolved because of security concerns.

Pelosi said after the shutdown deal was secured this week that she will now discuss a date for the event with Trump, indicating she would not immediately agree for him to deliver it as originally scheduled on Jan. 29.

"We will discuss a mutually agreeable date and I'll look forward to doing that and welcoming the president to the House of Representatives when we mutually agree on that date," she told reporters Friday.

Trump has also indicated Friday that if an agreement to fund a border wall is not made by Feb. 15, when the stopgap funding expires, that he may declare a national emergency to build the wall. Such a move would likely immediately be met with a legal challenge.

“We’ll work with the Democrats and negotiate, and if we can’t do that, then we’ll do a – obviously we’ll do the emergency because that’s what it is. It’s a national emergency,” Trump told reporters in the Roosevelt Room of the White House.