Dem demands Trump justify recalling furloughed workers

Dem demands Trump justify recalling furloughed workers
© Greg Nash

Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerHillicon Valley: Apple, Barr clash over Pensacola shooter's phone | Senate bill would boost Huawei alternatives | DHS orders agencies to fix Microsoft vulnerability | Chrome to phase out tracking cookies Senators offer bill to create alternatives to Huawei in 5G tech Sen. Warner calls on State Department to take measures to protect against cyberattacks MORE (D-Va.) on Tuesday demanded that the Trump administration provide legal justification for recalling furloughed workers during the partial government shutdown.

Over the past several weeks, the Trump administration has instructed some furloughed workers in shuttered parts of the government to come back to work unpaid in order to ramp up services put on hold since late December, when the shutdown began.

For example, the Department of Agriculture ordered 2,500 workers in the Farm Service Agency to go back to work in order to help farmers with existing loans and tax paperwork, while the Treasury Department brought back workers to process income verifications vital to the mortgage industry. 

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The IRS announced plans to bring thousands of workers back on board to help process taxes during tax filing season, while the State Department said it had unearthed funds to bring diplomats back to work for two weeks.

In letters to five of the nine government agencies affected by the shutdown, Warner raised the prospect that they could be in violation of the Anti-Deficiency Act. That law says that government agencies cannot operate without funding from Congress, with the exception of certain “essential” functions that are necessary to prevent “an imminent threat to the safety of human life or the protection of property.”

The law can be used to prosecute agencies and government workers that perform nonexempted functions during a shutdown.

“Rather than finding ways to minimize the impact of the current government shutdown, and straining legal bounds to do so, it is my strong belief that the best way to fix the current situation is to simply end the shutdown,” Warner wrote in letters to the Interior, State, Treasury, Agriculture and Transportation departments. 

He sent an additional letter to the IRS, which is part of the Treasury Department.

The shutdown, now in its second month, is the longest in U.S. history. 

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump's newest Russia adviser, Andrew Peek, leaves post: report Hawley expects McConnell's final impeachment resolution to give White House defense ability to motion to dismiss Trump rips New York City sea wall: 'Costly, foolish' and 'environmentally unfriendly idea' MORE says he will not reopen the government without $5.7 billion to fund his proposed border wall, which Democrats vociferously oppose.