There have been no developments through this morning (Thursday) on two issues federal employees have been watching closely. One is whether President Obama will grant excused absence for part or all of Friday, leading into what is already a three-day weekend since the Christmas Day holiday will be observed on Monday. Presidents have discretion to grant such time off but that most commonly is done when the holiday falls on a Tuesday or Thursday, to create a four-day weekend, or to lengthen the allowed time off when it falls on a Wednesday or Friday. Such a grant is totally within the President’s discretion and could yet happen even this close to the holiday—but even if there is no order, some managers might allow extra time off for at least part of the day Friday informally. One action that needs to be taken is an executive order finalizing raises to be effective with the first full pay period of the new year, starting January 8 in most cases, which will average 2.1 percent and range between 1.63 and 2.88 percent among the GS localities; that order also boosts executive schedule rates that act as the pay caps for SES and other senior employees who are paid within a range. Such an order is a formality at this point but it will show the exact new rates by locality.