The U.S. Department of Justice would curtail or postpone civil litigation during a government shutdown and would furlough 17,742 employees, or about 15 percent of its workforce starting tomorrow, according to a contingency plan.
While many Justice Department positions would be excepted from furloughs during a government shutdown, the legal activities divisions would be among the hardest hit by furloughs.
The Civil Division would have 71 percent of its 1,310 employees on furlough if Congress and the White House do not agree on a way to continue funding the government by midnight tonight.
Also among the Justice Department divisions with the highest percentage of employees furloughed: the Antitrust Division would have 63 percent of its 619 employees on furlough, the Civil Rights Division would furlough 71 percent of its 634 employees, and the Executive Office for Immigration Review would lose work from 70 percent of its 1,339 employees.
The Fiscal Year 2014 contingency plan also advises the Justice Department's civil litigators to ask the courts to postpone active cases until funding is available, except when a delay would risk the safety of a human life or protection of property.
If a judge denied the request, the Justice Department would view that as legal authorization for the case and limit the civil litigation staffing to the minimum level needed to comply with the court’s order, according to the plan.
The Justice Department would also cancel training for new, non-emergency employees and all in-service training of all current employees.
Otherwise, the agency has a relatively high percentage of employees excepted from a government shutdown because a significant portion of its mission involves the protection of human life and property, and others are funded with multi-year appropriations.
There are currently 114,486 employees, and 96,744 would be excepted from furlough under the Antideficiency Act, which guides government agencies during a potential shutdown, the department guidance states.
The Federal Prison System would keep almost all of its employees, while the Criminal Division would have 27 percent of its 955 employees, and the U.S. Attorneys would lose 37 percent of its workforce and 11,382 the plan states.
Attorney General Eric Holder Jr., during a press conference Monday, scolded the House for "dysfunction" and said it was possible the Justice Department would have to put prosecutors and investigators on furlough.
"People are trying to make a political point, and I'm trying to run a Justice Department," Holder said. "This has real-world consequences for the employees of this department, who have to pay mortgages, who have to pay car notes, who have to buy groceries."
Holder also said today that he would reduce his salary. "We are all in this together and whatever pain they suffer I will share with them," Holder said.