Soon, I think it’s likely that government leaders will be forced to conclude that the security implications of keeping unpaid federal employees on the job are worse than the implications of shutting those functions down altogether.

The law that allows the government to maintain “essential” functions during a lapse in funding, The Anti-Deficiency Act, provides a fairly narrow definition of what essential means. Under it, the only personnel that may be kept at work are those necessary for the prevention of “emergencies involving the safety of human life or the protection of property.”

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