Federal Judge Denies Request To Pay Government Employees During Shutdown

The National Air Traffic Controllers Association requested that the government pay air traffic controllers who are working without pay during the partial government shutdown, but a federal judge has quickly quashed the temporary restraining order filed by the organization.

The National Air Traffic Controllers Association represents approximately 24,000 Federal Aviation Administration employees who have been expected to work without pay during the shutdown.

CNN reports that District Judge Richard Leon also denied two requests for temporary restraining orders regarding whether federal employees who are deemed essential and required to work without pay during the shutdown should be forced to work.

The first one came from the National Treasury Employees Union, which believes that required essential employees to work without pay violates the Antideficiency Act, which is part of U.S. Code.

The union represents employees with the Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Parks Service and other offices.

Attorney Gregory O'Duden told NPR that not paying government workers and demanding they still be on the joy is "unlawful." He is general counsel for the National Treasury Employees Union.

"We will continue our fight to rectify what we think is an erroneous decision," O'Duden said.

"[Judge Leon] indicated that he believed that federal employees would in the end get paid. They may well get paid, or they may not."
The second temporary restraining order was requested by individual federal workers in a different lawsuit that requested federal employees classified as essential be given the choice of showing up to work or skipping so they could work elsewhere in order to cover their bills.

Leon explained that Congress is the only branch of government with the constitutional power to appropriate funds. The judiciary branch "is not and cannot be another source of leverage."

"We are an independent and coequal branch of government even if we can't keep our lights on," Leon said in court.

Even though the federal judge denied all three temporary restraining orders, he set a schedule for hearings pertaining to injunctions requested by the three lawsuits. But it's likely that will never happen because federal court offices are set to run out of money Friday because of the shutdown.

Admiral Karl Schultz, Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, tweeted about the issue.

"To the best of my knowledge, this marks the first time in our nation's history that servicemembers in a U.S. Armed Force have not been paid during a lapse in appropriations," he wrote.