APS announced the decision just after 5:00 this morning. Classes are canceled but school offices are to remain open, with essential employees still expected to report to work.
The federal government, meanwhile, is closed this morning, as are Arlington County courts. But Arlington County government will be open, with an unscheduled leave and telework policy for employees. ART buses will operate on a limited schedule.
Snow in Arlington began later than areas west and north, owing to temperatures just above freezing, but all parts of the county appear to have switched from rain to snow by 7:15 a.m.
Federal workers affected by the 16-day government shutdown began heading back to work today, thanks to an agreement Congress passed on Wednesday night. The agreement funds federal agencies through mid-January and raises the debt limit.
Congressman Jim Moran (D) blasted the shutdown, calling it “purposeless” in a statement released last night. Earlier this month, he introduced a bill — which the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed — to grant back pay to all 800,000 furloughed federal employees.
Moran’s full statement follows:
“This bill brings an end to one of the most embarrassing episodes in congressional history. House Republicans, spurred on by Tea Party-aligned members and outside groups who have exploited the Citizens United Supreme Court decision to subvert democracy, held the government hostage in an effort to destroy Obamacare. These Tea Party actions have caused a financially damaging, demoralizing government shutdown that shook consumer confidence, and resulted in the furlough of 800,000 federal employees and employment cutbacks at nearly 85 percent of all federal contracting companies.
“Three weeks later, $24 billion in lost economic growth and the anxiety of people wondering if and when they would receive a paycheck, we have a deal to reopen government, lift the debt ceiling…and Obamacare remains virtually untouched. Clearly, the new health law is going to need tweaking going forward. But efforts to destroy it, rather than improve it, led by charlatans like Senator Ted Cruz, willfully ignored the fact that 1) Congress signed it into law, 2) it was upheld by a conservative Supreme Court and, 3) it was a major issue in the most recent presidential election which resulted in a five million vote victory for President Obama.
“This two week period of panic and pain has been purposeless. We are back to square one having achieved nothing but to have exposed the radical destructiveness of the so called Ted Cruz Tea Party faction within the Republican Party.”
Furloughed Workers Voting Absentee? — The pace of absentee voting in Arlington has nearly doubled since the federal government shutdown, perhaps the result of furloughed workers casting ballots in advance. The pace is now about 50 ballots a day, which is still far slower than the absentee voting pace during the last presidential election. [Sun Gazette]
County Celebrates Crystal Drive Project — Last week Arlington County celebrated the completion of its Crystal Drive two-way project and the installation of a HAWK (High-intensity Activated Crosswalk) traffic signal on Crystal Drive between 23rd & 26th Streets South. [Arlington County]
Paint-Splattered Play Requires Ponchos — Synetic Theater’s “The Picture of Dorian Gray,” which runs through Nov. 3 in Crystal City, features on-stage paint-slinging as a special effect. Though a plexiglas pen is set up between the actors and the audience, those in the first few rows are provided with Gallagher-esque ponchos on the off-chance that drops of paint make it past the plexiglass. [Washington Post]
Flickr pool photo by J Sonder
Hundreds of thousands of federal workers are now on unpaid leave after Congress failed to reach an agreement on funding the government.
The furloughed workers spent part of Monday on the job, winding down their work in order to ensure as orderly a shutdown as possible. Today, they’re staying at home.
With some 800,000 federal workers being furloughed as a result of the government shutdown, Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) and other local members of Congress are calling for retroactive pay for civil servants.
Moran and nearly a dozen cosponsors have introduced the “Federal Employee Retroactive Pay Fairness Act,” which would provide retroactive pay for furloughed employees after Congress gets its act together and passes a government funding bill. Following the last government shutdown, in 1995 and 1996, the Republican-controlled Congress passed similar legislation.
While 85 percent of federal workers live outside the D.C. region, an extended shutdown could have wide-ranging impacts locally, from financial difficulties for families to possible pain for the regional economy.
Moran and his cosponsors released the following press release about the Retroactive Pay Fairness Act early this morning.
Congressman Jim Moran, Northern Virginia Democrat, introduced the “Federal Employee Retroactive Pay Fairness Act” to ensure all federal employees receive retroactive pay for the duration of a federal government shutdown, regardless of individual furlough status. Congressman Frank Wolf will be the lead Republican cosponsor. They are joined by Reps. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Chris Van Hollen (D-[MD]), Rob Wittman (R-VA), John Sarbanes (D-MD), Donna Edwards (D-MD), Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Scott Rigell (R-VA), and John Delaney (D-MD).
“Nearly a million federal workers could lose their pay because Congress failed to do its job and keep the government up and running,” said Rep. Moran. “Leaving the question of retroactive pay for furloughed employees, already shouldering much of the burden of sequestration, up to this highly divisive Congress is deeply concerning. Today’s bipartisan proposal shields family pocketbooks from partisan politics and reaffirms our commitment to our federal employees.”
Federal employee pay is suspended in the event of a funding lapse or government shutdown. Retroactive payment for “non-essential” and “essential” employees must be approved through the legislative process by Congress.
“Employees at the FBI, DEA and U.S. Marshals Service shouldn’t be punished because the Congress couldn’t get its job done,” Rep. Wolf said. “They should be properly compensated for the hard work they do to make our nation a safer and better place. Let’s also not forget that several federal workers paid the ultimate price just last week in the Navy Yard tragedy.”
“It is unacceptable that Congress’s failure to reach a responsible agreement to fund the government will force federal workers to stay home without pay rather than serve the American people ,” said Rep. Hoyer. “Our hardworking federal workforce – middle-class Americans who support our war fighters, defend our borders, keep our air clean and food safe, care for our veterans, and fulfill many other critical services – should not have to face furloughs. Like so many other Americans, they have mortgages to meet, college tuitions to pay, and families to support. That’s why I have joined my colleagues in sponsoring this bipartisan proposal to meet our basic moral obligation to our public servants and ensure all federal employees receive retroactive pay.”
“After months of furloughs and multiple pay freezes, the worst thing we could do to federal employees is to impose a needless government shutdown furlough on them,” said Rep. Holmes Norton. “In the past, Congress has not permanently placed its own failure to keep the government running on innocent federal employees. We should follow past precedent and retroactively pay our beleaguered federal employees who face furlough if the federal government shuts down on October 1.”
[ ... ]
“In the mid-1990’s, the Republican-led Congress provided furloughed Federal employees with retroactive pay in recognition that our civil servants do not deserve to be victims of congressional dysfunction,” said Rep. Connolly. “Our bipartisan bill will ensure that this Congress, just like the Republican-led Congresses before, honors its commitment to the dedicated men and women of our civil service who serve our constituents.”
Photo courtesy Andrew Clegg
The federal government and Arlington Public Schools are both closed today due to the “Snowquester” or “Saturn” snow storm.
Although the ground in parts of Arlington has yet to become snow-covered, forecasters say the storm is intensifying and should soon start accumulating here.
Today the House of Representatives passed a bill (261-154) that would freeze the pay of federal workers for a third straight year.
Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) spoke out against the bill, comparing it to Irish satirist Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal.”
“Today, the House majority, unfortunately without Mr. Swift’s humor or irony, offers its own Modest Proposal,” Moran said. “To ensure our elderly are cared for, let’s cut the pay of those responsible for their health. To make sure our food and drugs are safe, let’s diminish the benefits of those whose job it is to screen for safety and unintended effects. To find a cure for cancer, let’s punish the researcher who toils daily to save millions of Americans from the disease. To care for our veterans, who were sent by this body to fight in foreign lands, let’s make their caretakers find a second job.”
The proposal, H.R. 273, is not expected to be taken up by the Senate, and thus not expected to become law. Federal workers are currently slated to receive a 0.5 percent pay raise after March 27, thanks to an executive order issued by President Obama in December.
Update at 10:40 p.m. — The Office of Personnel Management is telling federal employees to stay off the road until 10:00 a.m. Federal offices will open to the public at noon.
The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Weather Advisory for Arlington and the D.C. region.
Forecasters warn that sleet and freezing rain might make for a slippery commute tomorrow (Monday) morning. The following advisory was updated at 7:45 p.m.
… WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY NOW IN EFFECT FROM 3 AM TO 10 AM EST MONDAY…
* PRECIPITATION TYPE… FREEZING RAIN… POSSIBLY MIXED WITH SLEET AT THE ONSET.
* ACCUMULATIONS… A FEW HUNDREDTHS OF AN INCH OF ICE FROM FREEZING RAIN. LITTLE OR NO SLEET ACCUMULATION.
* TIMING… DEVELOPING IN THE VERY EARLY HOURS MONDAY MORNING… AND CONTINUING THROUGH MID MORNING ON MONDAY. TEMPERATURES WILL RISE ABOVE FREEZING BY 10 AM MONDAY MORNING… CHANGING THE PRECIPITATION TO RAIN.
* TEMPERATURES… IN THE UPPER 20S TO NEAR 30.
* WINDS… SOUTH 5 TO 10 MPH.
* IMPACTS… ICING WILL PRODUCE SLIPPERY CONDITIONS ON UNTREATED ROADS… BRIDGES AND SIDEWALKS… PARTICULARLY DURING THE MONDAY MORNING COMMUTE.
A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY MEANS THAT PERIODS OF SNOW… SLEET… OR FREEZING RAIN WILL CAUSE TRAVEL DIFFICULTIES. BE PREPARED FOR SLIPPERY ROADS AND LIMITED VISIBILITIES… AND USE CAUTION WHILE DRIVING.
Streetcar Referendum Might Be Necessary — Arlington County might be forced to hold a bond referendum for the Columbia Pike streetcar if it’s unable to sell a certain type of revenue bond to partially fund the $250 million project. For now, the project is awaiting word on whether it will receive up to $75 million in federal funding. [Sun Gazette]
Higher-End Stores at Pentagon City Mall — The Fashion Centre at Pentagon City has undergone a transformation that brought higher-end “aspirational luxury” stores to the mall. Recent addition to the malls include Oakley, Sperry, Mezlan and Cole Haan. Among the stores that have recently left is Aeropostale, which was forced out by a Microsoft Store. [Washington Post]
‘Dooring’ Law Proposed in Richmond — A law has been proposed for the upcoming Virginia General Assembly session (which starts tomorrow) that would make a vehicle occupant liable in the event they open their car door in the path of a cyclist, causing an accident. Similar laws are already on the books in Maryland and D.C. [WTOP]
State Dept. Cancels Search for Lease in Rosslyn — The State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security, based on Lynn Street in Rosslyn, has canceled a search for a new lease. The agency is now looking for a building to buy, raising the prospect that it may be looking to move into the District. [Washington Business Journal]
Flickr pool photo by Jkurl11
Federal government employees have made a substantial contribution to federal debt reduction efforts already, say local lawmakers who are trying to ensure that federal workers don’t take a big hit in any upcoming debt reduction package.
The lawmakers are cautioning President Barack Obama and leaders in the House of Representatives to “carefully consider the implications that any proposed agreement would have on these Americans so that it reflects the substantial budget savings that the Federal workforce has contributed thus far.”
The lawmakers — Democratic Reps. Jim Moran (Va.), Steny Hoyer (Md.), Chris Van Hollen (Md.), Gerry Connolly (Va.), Donna Edwards (Md.) and John Sarbanes (Md.), plus Republican Reps. Frank Wolf (Va.) and Robert Wittman (Va.) — sent a letter to Obama this week highlighting $103 billion in cuts taken by federal employees in the form of pay freezes, delayed raises and increased benefit contributions.
“The letter comes as Congress and the White House work toward a solution to avoid sequestration cuts mandated to go into effect on January 2, 2013,” Moran’s office noted in a press release.
The text of the letter, which was also sent to House Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, after the jump.
Photo courtesy Andrew Clegg
Metrorail and Metrobus service will not resume service Tuesday morning. An announcement on when service may be restored will be made after Metro is able to assess damage and weather conditions in the morning. Metro personnel will need to perform a comprehensive damage assessment, including inspections of track, bridges, aerial structures, stations and facilities. Metrorail service restoration is also contingent on adequate commercial power to support operations and repair of any storm-related damage. For Metrobus, service restoration will vary by route and depend on road conditions.
MetroAccess service will remain suspended all day Tuesday.
Metro will restore service only when it is safe to do so.
Also this afternoon, the Office of Personnel Management announced that federal government offices would once again be closed to the public on Tuesday.
Non-emergency employees (including employees on pre-approved paid leave) will be granted excused absence (administrative leave) for the number of hours they were scheduled to work unless they are:
- required to telework,
- on official travel outside of the Washington, DC, area,
- on leave without pay, or
- on an alternative work schedule (AWS) day off.
Telework-Ready Employees who are scheduled to perform telework on the day of the announcement or who are required to perform unscheduled telework on a day when Federal offices are closed to the public must telework the entire workday or request leave, or a combination of both, in accordance with their agencies’ policies and procedures, subject to any applicable collective bargaining requirements.
Emergency Employees are expected to report to their worksites unless otherwise directed by their agencies.
Virginia State Police, meanwhile, asked media outlets to help correct a rumor that the agency is telling drivers to stay off the roads. VSP is only asking drivers to limit their travel. Earlier today, however, Arlington County asked residents to “stay where you are.”
Virginia State Police are advising motorists to limit their travels and avoid being on the roads, if/when possible, as Hurricane Sandy continues to make its inland path. NO ONE is being told they have to be off the roads by 3 p.m. Monday, as is incorrectly circulating on social media.
Foreign intelligence agencies often recruit spies and double agents within the American government by targeting federal employees in financial distress. Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) says the passage of a bill in the House of Representatives today will prevent those intelligence agencies from finding financially-troubled feds with only a few clicks of the mouse.
Moran applauded the passage of bill S. 3625, which will delay certain provisions of the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act from taking effect. The provisions would have required automatic online posting of the financial disclosure forms of 28,000 senior federal employees (GS-15 and SES level). The forms could reveal information about employees’ stock portfolio, real estate investments, and retirement funds.
In an Op-Ed in the Federal Times, Moran wrote:
Under the proposed online system our enemies around the world might be able to search thousands of records with a single keystroke — anonymously exploiting an easily accessible database to search for subtle differences in financial disclosures.
If analyzed closely, these differences might betray the identity of members of the intelligence community, while simultaneously providing information to our enemies as to which employees might be struggling financially — a known criteria used by foreign intelligence services to target individuals for espionage.
The bill, which will now head to the president’s desk following today’s voice vote in the House, will delay the online reporting provisions for senior federal employees from taking effect until Dec. 8. It also requires a study of “issues raised by website publication of financial disclosure forms” by the National Academy of Public Administration.
Earlier this month, a federal judge blocked enforcement of the STOCK Act until Oct. 31, after the American Civil Liberties Union argued that posting employees’ financial information is a violation of their privacy.
The full press release from Rep. Moran’s office, after the jump.
Photo courtesy Andrew Clegg
VDOT has lifted all rush hour HOV restrictions on I-66 inside the Beltway through Tuesday.
The agency says it made the decision to waive the HOV requirement today and tomorrow in order to “help ease delays on arterial routes due to signal outages.” Across Northern Virginia, VDOT says there are more than 80 traffic signals affected by power outages and about 50 roads closed due to downed power lines and trees.
Regular HOV restrictions will remain in effect on I-395 and on I-66 outside the Beltway. HOV rules on I-66 will also be waived on Wednesday due to the July 4 holiday.
Separately, the Office of Personnel Management announced today that it will extend its unscheduled leave/unscheduled telework policy through Tuesday for federal government employees affected by Friday’s storm.
I-66 HOV Restrictions Lifted — To ease congestion on arterial routes, which might be affected by traffic signal outages from Friday’s storm, VDOT lifted the HOV requirement for I-66 inside the Beltway during the morning rush hour.
Federal Gov’t Under Unscheduled Leave Policy — With nearly a quarter of all electricity customers in the D.C. area without power, the federal government is operating under a Unscheduled Leave/Unscheduled Telework Policy for today, according to the Office of Personnel Management.
Tejada Still Thinking About Streetcar — Walter Tejada says he still hasn’t decided whether he supports the planned Columbia Pike streetcar line. Tejada says he’s concerned about the streetcar’s impact on affordable housing. ”Transit-oriented development has been cruel” to low income people in Arlington, Tejada is quoted as saying. [Arlington Mercury]
Bolivian Parade Held — Despite the sweltering heat and continuing storm cleanup, Saturday’s AGROBOL Bolivian heritage parade was held as scheduled on Four Mile Run Drive. [Sun Gazette]
Flickr pool photo by ddimick
Obama to Visit W-L Today — President Obama will be making a lunchtime visit to Washington-Lee High School today. Expect heightened security in the area.
Bus Stop Improvements — The County has been making improvements to certain bus stops around Arlington. One recent stop to get a makeover — complete with a shelter and a Capital Bikeshare station — is at 15th and Hayes Streets in Pentagon City. [Arlington Transit]
GMU Green Patriot Award — George Mason University has issued its first annual ‘Green Patriot’ environmental award. The honor was given to Martin Ogle, the chief naturalist at Potomac Overlook Regional Park, who is retiring this month after 27 years with the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority. [Sun Gazette]
Federal Agency Offers Zombie Classes — In an apparent attempt to bring some levity to federal bureaucracy, classes on how to be a zombie are being offered at the Arlington offices of the Fish and Wildlife Service. [Washington Post]