Image copyright AP Image caption US Air Force staff are among those who are not returning to work
There is “zero” hope “you can find work” in the US after Congress voted to slash funding for public safety programmes.
The House approved an amendment on Wednesday which would also cut the salary of many of the Department of Homeland Security’s most senior officials.
The measure, which also cuts civil service funding, has already cleared the Senate.
It now heads to the White House and is awaiting President Donald Trump’s signature.
However, the White House issued a statement on Wednesday saying it would “expedite the release” of any funding cuts into the budget of the Department of Homeland Security.
US air forces and maritime forces staff will be exempt from any reductions, while air defence will get some temporary help.
However, the Department of the Army, which pays many of the workers who work in the security sector, will not be affected.
One US air force official said after the vote that there was “zero chance” that many of the staff would be able to secure a job – some might be laid off or transferred.
Image copyright Reuters Image caption Congress had already trimmed funding for public safety programmes after the 2015 floods
But the public safety funding is the most important source of federal funding for the Department of Homeland Security, because it provides funding to police departments, emergency response teams, first responder agencies, air traffic controllers and airport security.
The House voted 241 to 188 for the bill on Tuesday so the amendment had to come to the floor and pass.
If it fails, the department would end more than 200,000 federal jobs and cut the salaries of hundreds of thousands of others.
The spending bill still contains some emergency funding for airports.
The Senate has passed its version of the spending bill, but it still needs the president’s signature before it can go into effect.
But many senators told the Huffington Post they expected the Trump administration to veto the bill as it stands.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said “there aren’t a lot of options” for congressional negotiators.
Mr Schumer said the administration should not be allowed to “cut budgets for a department that is as important to our security as those of other agencies”.
Image copyright AFP Image caption President Trump’s visit to Houston was delayed briefly due to Hurricane Harvey
Mr Trump has previously voiced his disappointment over the level of the government’s public safety spending
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