State Department recalls most furloughed employees amid shutdown; makes additional funding available for salaries

The State Department announced Thursday that it has found funding to recall most of its furloughed employees who have gone without pay since the start of the government shutdown last month.

In a statement posted on the State Department’s website, Deputy Under Secretary for Management Bill Todd said the government is making additional funding available to pay the salaries of employees and expects most employees to be back at work starting Jan. 22, with overseas workers starting back January 20.

“As a national security agency, it is imperative that the Department of State carries out its mission,” Todd said in his statement. “We are best positioned to do so with fully staffed embassies, consulates, and domestic offices.”

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He added: “Recognizing the increasing hardship to employees caused by the ongoing lapse in appropriations, the Department is taking steps to make additional funds available to pay employee salaries.”

Todd, however, warned that while employees will receive their salaries, “bureaus and posts are expected to adhere to strict budget constraints with regard to new spending for contracts, travel, and other needs.”

The State Department is the latest government agency to recall its workers, and one of the few that has found a way to pay its employees during the partial government shutdown.

The Internal Revenue Service earlier this week announced that it was recalling about 46,000 of its employees furloughed by the government shutdown — nearly 60 percent of its workforce — to handle tax returns and pay out refunds. Those employees won't be paid during the shutdown.

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With the official start of the tax filing season coming Jan. 28, the Trump administration has promised that taxpayers owed refunds will be paid on time, despite the disruption in government services caused by the partial shutdown, now in its fourth week.

There had been growing concern that the shutdown would delay refunds worth hundreds of billions of dollars because the money for them wouldn't be available from Congress. But last week, the administration said customary shutdown policies will be reversed to make the money available to pay refunds on time.

An IRS document detailing its new shutdown plan shows that 46,052 agency employees will be called back to work, of the total workforce of 80,265. Only about 10,000 employees are deemed essential and have been working.

Overall some 800,000 federal employees have been furloughed or are working without pay.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.