The Senate has passed a measure on Thursday that will guarantee backpay for federal employers effected by the government shutdown.
The ongoing government shutdown is about to turn into the longest one in U.S. history and that's raising questions about what will happen next.
By Friday, many of the 800,000 federal workers affected are expected to have missed their first paycheck since the shutdown began three weeks ago. And by Saturday, the funding lapse will be the longest in history at 22 days, surpassing the 21-day holiday shutdown that stretched into 1996.
The missing paychecks are likely to trigger at least some unemployment claims with states, as well as possible resignations by federal workers who have grown tired of the instability. That could include airline security personnel, prison guards, food inspectors, Coast Guard personnel and border patrol officers.
Already, an estimated 4,500 people have filed for unemployment in the nation's capital. Airline workers are showing up on Capitol Hill urging Congress to reach a deal, and a separate major union rally is planned for Thursday.
For now, most agencies say there haven't been any major disruptions to government operations because workers deemed essential -- about 420,000 -- have been ordered to keep working despite not being paid. At least two lawsuits have been filed on their behalf, with major unions arguing that requiring work without pay isn't fair.
But as one agency official put it, if the shutdown extends past February, "we'll be digging into the couch cushions" to keep the most important operations afloat.
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