President Trump’s first budget proposal and its ramped-up defense spending could help Arlington’s economy, according to experts, but local lawmakers worry that cuts elsewhere in the federal government could hurt.
Trump’s budget blueprint for fiscal 2018, entitled “America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again,” calls for $54 billion in additional defense spending.
The budget plan would cut federal funding to a swath of programs to help offset the increased defense spending, including a number that help lower-income residents.
That would likely mean a spending boon at the Pentagon, which has approximately 25,000 military and civilian occupants daily.
In addition, defense contractors based in the county could see more work go their way, as well as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, an Arlington-based Department of Defense agency.
Frank Shafroth, director of the Center for State and Local Government Leadership at George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government, added that DARPA work can be just as lucrative. DARPA “often subcontracts up to $7 for every dollar spent in house,” Shafroth said.
Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) said the effects of decreased defense spending under President Obama, the result of the federal budget sequester, must be tackled but not in this way.
“We should be serious about addressing the fiscal issues in our country and work together to address the impact that the across-the-board spending cuts have had on the military and our national security,” Warner said in a statement. “However, the roadmap the President has laid out does not meet those goals.”
Of concern in Arlington is reduced spending on the State Department, which operates three D.C.-area field offices in Arlington. Trump’s plan would cut $10.1 billion from State and the U.S. Agency for International Development. That cut could force the closure or downsizing of those field offices, which handle security and investigations among other roles.
“Budgets show us a President’s priorities, and based on what President Trump released today, I’m concerned that he’s continuing to push policies that would hurt Virginians,” Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) said in a statement last week. “While I support the Administration’s commitment to investments in defense, deep cuts to the State Department jeopardize our national security.”
“President Trump wants to spend more on defense and border security while making huge cuts to what they defend: our people, our health, and our environment,” he said. “These extreme cuts will hit my constituents particularly hard, including many federal workers at the State Department and Environmental Protection Agency. But their pain will be felt across the entire country.”
Any gains on the defense side may be offset by losses elsewhere, as Trump’s budget plan seeks to shrink the federal workforce. With a hiring freeze already in place, further cuts could be coming.
Analysis by the Stephen S. Fuller Institute at GMU found that Northern Virginia could lose as many as 3,600 federal jobs, under the assumption that between 5.4 and 6.6 percent of all federal jobs in the region are lost.
And the analysis found that any gains in DoD and other departments may not be enough to lessen the impact of losses elsewhere.
Despite others’ gloomy predictions, Shafroth said he is optimistic that Arlington can weather any storms, given how central it is in defense spending.
“On net, especially given the serious situation with North Korea, I believe there will be major job disruption, but, at the end of the day the county’s critical role in national defense and the very large increase in federal spending will lead to disruption, but close to a net overall wash,” he said.
Flickr pool photo (top) by Michael Coffman
Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) is blasting President Donald Trump’s executive order freezing federal government hiring.
Beyer said federal hiring freezes make government less effective, hurt state and local economies, and actually end up increasing costs to taxpayers.
Trump said his order excludes the military.
Beyer issued the following statement this afternoon.
The Trump administration’s decision to further scapegoat the federal workforce by freezing hiring is ineffective and damaging. Like previous actions of Congressional Republicans, complaints of ineffective government are being met with a strategy which makes government even less effective. This cycle is intentional, and state and local economies across the country will suffer for it. Weakening the ability of the federal government to carry out its crucial mission is not how you put ‘America first.’
85% of the nation’s civil service positions are based outside of the National Capital Region. The number of federal workers is at its lowest level since the 1960s, and over 30 percent will be eligible to retire in the next year. A report by the General Accounting Office (GAO) on previous federal hiring freezes stated such freezes are not an effective strategy for shrinking the size of the workforce, and only serve to disrupt agency operations and in the long-term increase the cost of government operations.
Beyer Opposes ‘Holman Rule’ — Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) has joined other local legislators in opposing the proposed reinstatement of the “Holman Rule,” which would allow a legislator to offer an amendment that would “reduce the salary of any federal employee, or eliminate a federal employee’s position without hearings, testimony, or due process.” [Federal News Radio, House of Representatives]
Ray’s Hell Burger Still Among the Best — Rosslyn-based Ray’s Hell Burger is on Food & Wine’s list of the best burgers in the United States. [Food & Wine]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
The Office of Personnel Management announced Monday night that federal offices would remain closed Tuesday, though “emergency and telework-ready employees required to work must follow their agency’s policies.”
Arlington County government offices, facilities and courts — with the exception of General District Court — are scheduled to reopen at noon on Tuesday.
“Unscheduled leave and telework options are encouraged for County employees, with supervisor’s approval,” the county noted in a press release.
Arlington public libraries will open at noon on Tuesday, but children’s programs are cancelled. Many Arlington parks and recreation programs are also cancelled. Schools remain closed.
Trash and recycling collection, meanwhile, is also still suspended, but may resume on Wednesday.
County snow crews and contractors are continuing to work around the clock to clear snow and ice from local streets.
“County crews are now deep into Phase 3 of snow cleanup operations, focusing on residential streets,” the press release said. “In many areas, crews have had to bring in heavy construction equipment to break through snow/ice banks at the ends of streets so plows can get in.”
“The goal is to get to all neighborhood streets by Tuesday night but it may take until Wednesday, Jan. 27, to reach some sections given the amount of snowfall and related conditions, including buried parked cars,” the press release continues. “County officials are asking residents for continued patience as enormous amounts of snow are removed from roadways and, in many cases, transported miles away.”
The county’s snow removal ordinance remains suspended “because of the massive amounts of snow that fell on area sidewalks.”
“No citations will be issued during the cleanup,” the county said. “However, the goals behind the ordinance remain… so all efforts to clear sidewalks for the community are appreciated.”
Arlington’s Office of Emergency Management warned that an overnight refreeze could make for treacherous driving early Tuesday morning. “Please use extra caution,” OEM urged in an Arlington Alert.
Among the county officials getting back to work on Tuesday will be members of the Arlington County Board.
“The Arlington County Board will convene as scheduled Tuesday, Jan. 26, at 3 p.m.,” said the county press release. “It will defer consideration of both the January Consent and Regular Agendas to the Recessed Meeting now scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 28.”
Photo courtesy James Mahony
The feds join Arlington County government and public schools in closing Monday due to poor road conditions. Many neighborhood streets remain treacherous, covered with snow and ice that plows have yet to remove.
Arlington County trash and recycling collection service has been cancelled Monday and Tuesday.
ART bus service will be running sporadically Monday. The transit service says ART 41, 51, and 55 routes will run every 30 minutes from noon to 5 p.m. Monday. Other routes will remain suspended.
Reagan National and Dulles International airports, meanwhile, are reopening Monday, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority said Sunday night.
The National Park Service announced Sunday that the northbound GW Parkway would remain closed between Spout Run and the Beltway until at least noon on Monday.
The full Monday closure message, from OPM:
*FEDERAL OFFICES* in the Washington, DC area are *CLOSED*. Emergency and telework-ready employees required to work must follow their agency’s policies, including written telework agreements.
/*Non-emergency employees*/ 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 pre-approved leave (including leave without pay), or
* on an alternative work schedule (AWS) day off.
/*Telework-Ready Employees*/ who are scheduled to perform telework on the effective day of the announcement or who are required to perform telework on a day when Federal offices are closed must telework the entire workday or request leave, or a combination of both, in accordance with their agency’s policies and procedures, subject to any applicable collective bargaining requirements (as consistent with law).
/*Emergency Employees*/ are expected to report to their worksite unless otherwise directed by their agencies.
The press release from MWAA:
Reagan National and Dulles International will each have at least one runway open for flight operations beginning Monday morning, January 25.
We expect airlines to operate limited flight schedules at both airports throughout the day on Monday. Passengers should check with their airlines for information about their specific flights.
Snow crews at both Reagan National and Dulles International continue to work around the clock to clear runways, taxiways, roadways and parking lots in anticipation of the resumption of flights on Monday. Our priority is the safety of passengers and employees traveling to and from the airports. Travelers are encouraged to use caution when driving to the airports and plan extra time, as larger than normal crowds are possible.
Arlington’s members of Congress are touting wins for federal workers, veterans, Metro and the Virginia economy in a new federal spending bill.
The bill, a rare bipartisan budget compromise, passed both houses of Congress this morning. It includes a raise for the federal workforce, $150 million for WMATA, $30 million for Arlington National Cemetery, and billions for the Dept. of Veterans Affairs and various other military spending priorities.
The office of Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) described it as “good news for federal employees” in a press release.
There is finally some good news for federal employees in the omnibus spending bill passed by Congress this morning. The $1.1 trillion spending package included a pay raise for federal employees and service members, as well as significant additional funding for the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), some of which is earmarked for cybersecurity.
“Federal employees suffered through enough with years of wage stagnation, furloughs and shutdowns, and, perhaps most egregiously, the theft of their personal information as a result of the OPM hacks,” said Rep. Beyer. “In addition to cybersecurity investments to prevent future breaches, this deal gives our federal workforce a modest 1.3 percent pay raise for the second year in a row.”
“These efforts will help improve the recruitment and retention of federal employees to help our government grow the new American economy,” Beyer added.
The agreement provides $272 million for OPM and the OPM Inspector General, a $132 million increase over the previous year. The legislation also provides $21 million for critical upgrades to OPM’s cybersecurity infrastructure and to ensure protections to prevent similar security breaches are installed. Individuals affected by the OPM data breaches will be provided with identity protection coverage for 10 years — much more than the previous commitment — and identity theft insurance in the amount of $5,000,000.
After the jump, a joint press release from Virginia Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, including details of specific spending and tax provisions of note for Virginia residents, businesses and federal workers.
(Updated at 10:45 a.m.) Schools are closed today, and Arlington County government offices and courts will be opening at 11:00 a.m.
Other county facilities also have delayed openings. Libraries, except for the Plaza library, are hoping open at 1:00 p.m., according to Arlington’s closing and delays page.
The Arlington Mill Community Center will open at 1:00 p.m., while other community centers will open at noon or later, as scheduled, according to the county.
After earlier saying that trash and recycling collection would happen today and Saturday, the county now says it has been cancelled.
Due to hazardous road conditions, all solid waste services have been canceled: brush, cart repair, collection, special collections, etc. We will resume collections on Monday, March 9. Thursday and Friday customers will be serviced on their next collection day. Carts should be removed from the right-of-way. The Customer Call Center will open at 11 a.m.
The federal government, meanwhile, is opening on a two hour delay.
“All Arlington Public Schools and Offices will be closed on Tue, Feb. 17,” APS said in an email. “Essential personnel are to report to work at their scheduled time. Extracurricular activities, interscholastic games, team practices, field trips, adult and community education classes, and programs in schools and on school grounds are canceled.”
All APS pools will also be closed on Tuesday.
Federal government offices will be closed Tuesday, per the Office of Personnel Management.
“FEDERAL OFFICES in the Washington, DC area are CLOSED,” OPM said on its website. “Emergency and telework-ready employees required to work must follow their agency’s policies, including written telework agreements.”
Arlington Transit buses, meanwhile, will operate at “severe service levels” on Tuesday.
“ART will operate only routes 41, 42, 45, 51, 77 & 87 on arterial streets Tuesday Feb 17 due to weather and street conditions. Expect delays,” ART said via email. “No service on S. Courthouse Rd, in Columbia Hts West, the Walter Reed hill, or north of Virginia Hospital Center. No other routes will be operated.”
The Federal Adjustment of Income Rates Act (FAIR Act), if it passes, would represent the biggest wage increase for federal workers since the 2008 recession. Moran co-sponsors the bill with Fairfax County Rep. Gerry Connolly (D), who introduced the legislation, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), John Tierney (D-Mass.) and other House members.
Moran said in a press release announcing the legislation that the attrition in the federal workforce has increased 35 percent since 2009. In 2013, earnings grew in every industry except for civilian federal workers, whose earnings fell $6.7 billion according to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis.
Federal workers were granted a 1 percent pay increase last year, the press release said, but that lagged behind a 1.5 percent growth in inflation.
“Federal workers deserve to be compensated for the vital role they play in the lives of millions of Americans,” Moran said. “These are the men and women finding lifesaving cures at NIH, catching criminals, supporting our troops, and protecting the environment. They have bills to pay and families to support. After three years of pay freezes and too many furloughs, they’ve earned this modest, decent raise.”
After the jump, you can read Moran’s full press release: (more…)
- All Enjoy Arlington classes and nature center programs are cancelled in County and school buildings.
- All sports activities, leagues and instructional programs in County and school buildings are cancelled.
- All Preschool programs are cancelled.
- All senior programs (including Walter Reed, Langston Brown and Arlington Mill nutrition sites) are cancelled.
- Arlington Mill Community Center will open at 10:00 a.m.
- All other community centers, including the joint use facilities located at Drew, Carver, Gunston, Langston and Thomas Jefferson will open at Noon or as scheduled later in the day.
- All synthetic fields remain closed on Wednesday.
- The Powhatan Springs skate park remains closed on Wednesday.
Update at 8:15 a.m. — County government offices and courts will open at 10:00 a.m. From Arlington Alert: “County plows are working around the clock, but road conditions remain slippery. If you must drive, please exercise caution.”
Arlington Public Schools will be closed Wednesday.
All classes, meetings and events at Arlington’s public schools have been cancelled. School offices will open at noon and essential employees are being asked to report to work as scheduled.
The federal government will open on a two hour delay on Wednesday.
“Employees should plan to arrive for work no more than 2 hours later than they would be expected to arrive,” said the Office of Personnel Management. “Emergency Employees are expected to report to their worksite on time unless otherwise directed by their agencies.”
ART bus service will be limited Wednesday morning “due to icy street conditions.” Arlington Transit said in an email. Only ART routes 41, 51 and 77 will be operating, and those routes are subject to the transit agency’s severe weather policy.
“More routes will be added later in the day as conditions permit,” ART said.
A wind chill advisory is in effect through noon on Wednesday. Forecasters are warning of dangerous sub-zero wind chills.
… WIND CHILL ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL NOON EST WEDNESDAY… … WINTER STORM WARNING IS CANCELLED…
* WIND CHILL… BETWEEN 5 AND 15 DEGREES BELOW ZERO TONIGHT THROUGH WEDNESDAY MORNING.
* TEMPERATURES… FALLING INTO THE SINGLE DIGITS TONIGHT. HIGH TEMPERATURES WEDNESDAY WILL BE IN THE TEENS.
* WINDS… NORTH 10 TO 20 MPH… BECOMING NORTHWEST 15 TO 25 MPH WITH GUSTS UP TO 40 MPH AFTER MIDNIGHT THROUGH WEDNESDAY MORNING.
* IMPACTS… DANGEROUSLY LOW WIND CHILLS TONIGHT THROUGH WEDNESDAY MORNING MAY LEAD TO HYPOTHERMIA OR FROST BITE ON EXPOSED SKIN.
A WIND CHILL ADVISORY MEANS THAT VERY COLD AIR AND STRONG WINDS WILL COMBINE TO GENERATE LOW WIND CHILLS. THIS WILL RESULT IN FROST BITE AND LEAD TO HYPOTHERMIA IF PRECAUTIONS ARE NOT TAKEN. IF YOU MUST VENTURE OUTDOORS… MAKE SURE YOU WEAR A HAT AND GLOVES.
Photo courtesy @maddogrow
Federal offices in the D.C. area are closed today due to the expected snow storm.
Non-emergency federal employees will have the day off, unless their office requires them to telework.
“Telework-Ready Employees who are scheduled to perform telework on the effective day of the announcement or who are required to perform telework on a day when Federal offices are closed must telework the entire workday or request leave, or a combination of both, in accordance with their agency’s policies and procedures, subject to any applicable collective bargaining requirements,” according to the Office of Personnel Management.
Arlington County government offices and courts, meanwhile, are open today.
All Arlington public schools are closed, but community centers and pools remain open. All evening activities are canceled. Essential APS employees must report to work but teachers are being asked to work from home and other employees are being allowed to telework.
ART bus service, like Metro service, will be running on a normal schedule this morning but may reduce service levels as weather conditions dictate.
Arlington’s Emergency Winter Shelter will remain open throughout the day today due to falling temperatures and the expected snowfall.
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.