U.S. government advises workers on staving off creditors amid shutdown
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - As a partial shutdown of the U.S. government stretched into its sixth day, the agency that oversees the federal workforce offered advice on staving off creditors to the estimated 800,000 employees who could be affected by a lapse in pay. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) suggested furloughed workers could offer partial payments to mortgage lenders and posted on its website form letters they could use.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - As a partial shutdown of the U.S. government stretched into its sixth day, the agency that oversees the federal workforce offered advice on staving off creditors to the estimated 800,000 employees who could be affected by a lapse in pay.
The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) suggested furloughed workers could offer partial payments to mortgage lenders and posted on its website form letters they could use.
"I am a Federal employee who has recently been furloughed due to a lack of funding of my agency," said one of three templates offered by the agency. "Because of this, my income has been severely cut and I am unable to pay the entire cost of my mortgage, along with my other expenses."
In a Twitter post, OPM said idled workers should contact personal attorneys if they needed advice on dealing with creditors.
President Donald Trump and congressional leaders have reached an apparent stalemate in a fight over government funding with the president insisting on $5 billion from taxpayers for a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico against stiff resistance from Democrats.
Unable to reach a compromise, about a quarter of government agencies shut down at midnight last Friday.
Trump has said he will wait to reopen the government for however long it takes to receive the funding for the wall, and Democrats sound willing to wait until they claim control of the U.S. House of Representatives on Jan. 3.
The stakes are high for the estimated 15 percent of the federal workforce whose agencies are affected. Although they will receive paychecks as normal for the pay period that ended Dec. 22, future pay remains in doubt, even as their bills do not.
According to the American Federation of Government Employees, a union that represents federal employees, about 420,000 federal employees will be working without pay, while 380,000 others have been told to stay home.
AFGE spokeswoman Ashley De Smeth said the letter templates were developed during a shutdown in 2013.
"It is business as usual," she said. "It is up to each agency to decide how to use them."
OPM did not respond to a request for comment.
"Due to a lapse in appropriations, OPM responses to incoming media (requests) may be delayed," an email from the office said.
(Reporting by Makini Brice; Editing by Tim Ahmann and Bill Trott)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
U.S. home sales fall as tight supply boosts prices | Reuters
France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters
By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States
China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters
BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.