WASHINGTON — It may not be a white Christmas in the D.C. area this year, but the federal workforce has the White House to thank for an extra day off.
On Tuesday night, President Donald Trump issued an executive order excusing federal employees from duty on Dec. 24. All federal offices will be closed.
Under the order:
“All executive departments and agencies of the Federal Government shall be closed and their employees excused from duty on Monday, December 24, 2018, the day before Christmas Day.
“The heads of executive departments and agencies may determine that certain offices and installations of their organizations, or parts thereof, must remain open and that certain employees must report for duty on December 24, 2018, for reasons of national security, defense, or other public need.”
Last year, Christmas Eve fell on a Sunday so federal workers did not get a long weekend.
Civil servants are usually given the day off when Christmas falls on a Tuesday, as it does this year. President Barack Obama gave federal employees a four-day weekend in 2012. President George Bush did the same in 2007 and in 2001.
In 2014, the day after Christmas fell on a Friday, and Obama gave federal workers the day off.
Trump’s order come as the possibility of a federal shutdown looms. Democrats and Republicans have until Friday to come up with a funding deal to keep a partial government shutdown from happening.
On Tuesday, Trump signaled he could be backing off his demand for $5 billion for border wall funding.
Without a resolution, more than 800,000 government workers could be furloughed or sent to work without pay beginning at midnight Friday, disrupting government operations days before Christmas.
One option that has been circulating on Capitol Hill would be to simply approve government funding at existing levels, without a boost for the border, as a stopgap measure to kick the issue into the new Congress next month. The chairman of the Appropriations Committee, Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., confirmed late Tuesday his office was preparing legislation to keep government funded, likely into February. The White House preference was for a longer-term package, although the conversation remained fluid and Trump has been known to quickly change course, said a person familiar with the negotiations but not authorized to discuss them by name
The Associated Press contributed to this report.