Furloughs as it Seeks a $1.2 BILLION Infusion
of Supplemental Funds for
Fiscal Year 2020
The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) formally informed Congress of the situation in a June 19, 2020, letter to Congress that was a follow-up to in-person briefings it had conducted a month earlier.
Internal USCIS documents indicate that $571.2 MILLION of the request would support operations for the remainder of the fiscal year and $650 MILLION would be used to provide carryover funds to ensure that sufficient resources are available at the start of the next fiscal year. Of the $571.2 million USCIS is requesting for the current fiscal year, $373.4 MILLION would be used for payroll and $197.8 million for other expenses including rent, FBI name checks and fingerprinting, and information technology contracts.
The consequences of such a massive layoff of USCIS employees would have serious, negative consequences. It has been estimated, for instance, that 860,000 people were scheduled to become U.S. citizens this year. Pandemic-related shutdowns had already cut into that number. A furlough of employees of the magnitude projected by Department of Homeland Security officials would all but halt naturalizations for the remainder of the year.
It asserts that "The decline became more significant in April. At the time USCIS provided technical assistance to the Congress, fee receipts were expected to be more than 60 percent below initial forecast for the remainder of the fiscal year. In addition, USCIS saw a 51 percent year-over-year decline in receipts, based on a comparison of receipt volumes for a two-week period in March/April 2020 against receipt volumes in the equivalent period in 2019. While USCIS continues to analyze available data to refine revenue and spending projections, it remains apparent that USCIS will not have sufficient funding to maintain operations through the end of the fiscal year, nor will USCIS have balances to fund its operations during the first quarter of fiscal year 2021"
A spokesman for the House Appropriations Committee, when asked about the prospect of Congress providing supplemental funding for USCIS replied, “House Democrats are closely tracking USCIS’ financial difficulties and are prepared to discuss solutions with Senate Republicans as part of negotiations on the next phase of coronavirus response legislation,” Hollander said by email. “So far, Senate Republicans are unwilling to begin those negotiations.”
The House Committee on Appropriations is scheduled to begin considering the Fiscal Year 2021 Homeland Security Appropriations Act in early July.