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Trump declares this Christmas Eve a federal holiday

President Donald J. Trump in the Oval Office on Tuesday, Dec. 25, 2018. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)
December 19, 2019

President Donald Trump passed an executive order on Tuesday, giving federal workers Christmas eve off with pay for the second year in a row.

“All executive departments and agencies of the Federal Government shall be closed and their employees excused from duty on Tuesday, December 24, 2019, the day before Christmas Day,” Trump’s order reads.

Trump issued the same order in 2018, giving federal employees Christmas Eve off with pay.

Leadership can still determine which offices and employees must continue working where their tasks involve national security or other issues of public need.

According to Government Executive, this year’s order is something of a surprise move as past Presidents have granted Christmas eve off but have not typically done so when Christmas fell on a Wednesday. The last time Christmas Eve fell on a Tuesday, back in 2013, President Barrack Obama did not issue a Christmas Eve executive order.

In 2013, an official for the Office of Personnel Management (OMP) noted federal offices have remained open in six of the last nine times Christmas has fallen on a Wednesday since 1946. President George W. Bush granted a half-day to federal employees when Christmas fell on a Wednesday in 2002.

Margaret Weichert, the deputy director for management at the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), on Tuesday told gathered senior executives that President Franklin Roosevelt was the last president to issue a full-day executive order where Christmas Eve landed on a Tuesday.

Trump issued last year’s executive order for Christmas eve on Dec. 18, 2018, just days before the government entered a partial shutdown on Dec. 22. By Christmas, many federal employees had already been furloughed and remaining essential employees were called to work without pay.

This year’s Christmas eve executive order comes with the expected passage of a 2020 government budget, likely to avoid a shutdown. This year’s budget has passed in both houses of Congress: the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives and the Republican Senate. The budget also includes a 3.1 percent pay raise for military and civilian federal workers –  the largest in a decade.

“The president is poised to sign it and to keep the government open,” White House advisor Kellyanne Conway said of Trump’s intent to sign the budget measures Congress had passed.