Once government shutdowns started becoming somewhat of a
regular occurrence (there have been 17 shutdowns since 1977), somewhere a
group of people in suits decided to make calls on what they consider
“essential” and “non-essential” federal government services.
I was covering federal courts and agencies for the
Enquirer 17 years ago during the previous lockout. One impression
remains unshakable: most federal employees told to stay home were
offended by the “non-essential” designation. They didn’t think of themselves as bureaucrats, but more
as civil service; apolitical and doing the best job they could with the
resources provided by Congress.