Employees at the U.S. Bureau of Mines are wondering if things can get much worse.
“It’s tough losing your job and being threatened with furlough and getting half a paycheck,” said Richard Grabowski, chief of the Western Field Operations Center in Spokane.
“Do they want to kick my dog next?”
The agency is supposed to go out of existence Monday, and because of that, all workers were exempted from the current furloughs. They have been busy getting records ready for transfer to other agencies.
But the budget stalemate between Congress and President Clinton makes even the closure an uncertainty, Grabowski said.
The legislation to close the 80-year-old agency was contained in the Interior Department budget approved by the House and Senate approved. But Clinton vetoed that bill.
Government operations might be funded temporarily, through a continuing resolution, if Congress and the president reach an agreement. That resolution might include an amendment calling for the bureau to close.
But that could be illegal, Grabowski noted. Continuing resolutions are supposed to do just that, continue things as they currently exist. Closing the bureau is not continuing it.
“It’s a mess,” Grabowski said.