How California will be affected by a federal government shut-down

by on April 7, 2011 · 7 comments

in California, Civil Rights, Economy, Labor

Potential effects of shutdown

National Parks —- Likely to be closed.

Social Security —- Checks will be mailed out, although new claims may not be processed.

Border Patrol —- Deemed an essential service and will continue.

Air travel —- Air traffic control is essential; flights should not be affected.

IRS —- This agency will shut down in the middle of tax season. Tax refund checks won’t be issued.

Military —- Thousands of military members based in San Diego could go without pay temporarily federal officials said Wednesday. The question isn’t whether the sailors, Marines and airmen will be paid, but how much and when.  According to a statement on the Defense Department website, the armed forces members would continue to earn their salaries, but wouldn’t actually receive any money until Congress reaches a budget agreement.  (See here.)

Visas and passports —- New applications are not expected to be processed.

Postal Service —- The US Postal Service will deliver mail.

by Cassie Myers / North County Times / April 6, 2011

WASHINGTON —- The Border Patrol will remain on duty, mail will be delivered, and Social Security checks should go out on time, but a government shutdown could stall tax refunds, scuttle vacation plans, and put tens of thousands of Californians temporarily out of work.

A partial shutdown of the federal government will begin Friday at midnight, possibly a few hours earlier on the West Coast, if Congress cannot break its gridlock over the budget.

California has a huge population of federal workers, roughly 170,000 according to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, nearly the same number as Washington itself.

Employees deemed essential, such as air traffic controllers, doctors at VA hospitals, border agents and military personnel are likely to remain on the job, as they did during the last major shutdown in 1995. Others, such as Internal Revenue Service employees at 27 California locations, may find their offices closed on Monday.

None will be paid until the dispute is over, though essential employees are likely to be reimbursed with back pay.

A succession of stopgap measures has kept government operations going since the budget year began Oct. 1. The latest expires Friday, and with Democrats and Republicans unable to reach an agreement by Wednesday night, the White House has told agencies to begin planning for a shutdown.

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management posted a message on its website late Tuesday for the 3 million members of the federal workforce, expressing hope that a settlement might still be reached, but concluding that “given the realities of the calendar, prudent management requires we plan for an orderly shutdown should the negotiations not be completed by the end of the current continuing resolution.”

In Washington, the shutdown will have a dramatic effect, as a sizable portion of the workforce will be furloughed, trash will go uncollected, and the Smithsonian museums will be closed.

California may not feel the effects as intensely, but residents will notice the absence of many federal services.

The IRS will shut down in the middle of tax season, suspending the processing of refunds as well as audits (electronic filing will not be affected, a senior administration official told reporters Wednesday).

Passports and visa processing may also be suspended. Many Californians were unable to receive them during the last shutdown, wreaking havoc on travel plans.

Federal agencies handling Social Security and Medicare will continue to issue checks, although new applications may not be processed. Medicare will be funded for “at least a short period of time,” a senior administration official told reporters. He said the shutdown would have to stretch on for months in order for the trust fund to run out.

Entities deemed nonessential, like national parks, are likely to be closed as they were in 1995. However, it is not yet clear exactly what a closed national park means for tourists.

“Do we say the visitors center is closed? Or do we shut the gates to the park and nobody comes in? And then it gets even more complicated,” said Yosemite National Park spokesman Scott Gediman.

This issue is especially complex for a place like Yosemite, where a private company owns and operates the hotels within the park.

Yosemite employees were still accepting lodging reservations Wednesday, but they advised patrons that if the government shuts down, guests would be asked to leave Saturday morning.

“We’re more than happy to move reservations and provide a refund,” said Yosemite public relations manager Lisa Cesaro.

The shutdown would also suspend the collection of government data. This is particularly important in California, which relies on information ranging from geological surveys to findings from the Census Bureau.

A shutdown would probably close down the Department of Homeland Defense’s E- Verify program, which allows employers throughout the state to determine a worker’s legal status.

Environmental projects in California could also suffer. In 1995, many scheduled cleanups were postponed because of lack of funds, and the senior administration official explained that the EPA will stop reviews of environmental impact statements, stalling approval for potential transportation and energy projects.

New loan approvals from some federal agencies such as the FHA would stop, affecting small-business loans as well as guarantees for loans for mortgages.

California is home to some of the nation’s largest federal contractors. Companies such as Lockheed Martin and IBM as well as universities such as the University of California and the California Institute of Technology receive considerable funding from the government. Many contractors with multiyear contracts won’t be affected, but a shutdown could slow or stall some projects.

Government shutdowns are not common —- the last two shutdowns in late 1995 and early 1996 were a result of deadlock between House Republicans and President Bill Clinton.

“Since 1980, all agencies have had to have a plan in case of a government shutdown, and these plans are updated routinely. We are currently reviewing our contingency plan to ensure it is up to date,” said Scott Wolfson, public affairs director at the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in an email.

Like many Californians, federal agencies in the state are awaiting decisions from Washington.

We’re not deciding” about the shutdown, Gediman said. “We just do what we’re told.”

To see the original article, go here.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

JEC April 7, 2011 at 6:45 am

When is a shut down NOT a shut down? So called “Essential Services” appear to ensure that business feels no impact. If a shut down means stopping services to the citizens, why, please Mr. Bilbray and Mr. Issa tell us why are business services exempted? Why is anyone or any thing exempt. Where is the legislation authorizing the continued appropriations for selected services? And when the government decides it can forego it’s responsiblities it is also losing it’s authority. They go hand in hand.

This country is at war, Republican initiated wars. How does shutting down the government not end the ability to fight wars or to help out NATO. Why is not everyone in the military given the option to leave since their employer is re-negotiating their employment contract. So Mr. Bilbray and Mr. Issa, let’s be honest. I know, something new, but really, the GOP vision is to have the private sector do it – so what are you afraid of? This is your vision – not a temporary shut down but an end to government oversight. So let’s get started. FAA oversight, like inspecting cracked planes, end it. Air traffic controllers, along with federal money spent on airports, end it. Also ever capital project with federal money involved – roads, bridges, dams, harbors, shut them down. And the Coast Guard, park the boats and go home. The Border patrol, ICE – how is it that law enforcement is essential but medical care is not.

If we are so politically at odds then perhaps the best course is to shut it down – all of it. Get the feel, make it real. Share the pain. The GOP have no honor or courage in their own position.


dave rice April 7, 2011 at 8:46 pm

And with the Republican proposal to extend the standoff one more week by slashing progressive programs but funding the military for several more months (and sneaking in a backdoor anti-abortion policy), the Reps have set the stage to blame the Dems for not bowing down to their demands, thus making the coming catastrophe “all their fault.”

I’m just glad Chris and I got our tax returns in this week before the government decided to force us to extend our interest-free loans…


RB April 7, 2011 at 7:50 am

Nobody who was a member of the last congress or its leadership should be complaining.
This is last years budget and should have been completed in October.

But don’t worry, these budget problems will end just as they are ending in Europe.
When you borrow 40% of your operating budget and have trillion dollar deficits, eventually the bond market will require much higher interest rates and large cuts in spending. The last time I bought bonds in the early 80’s, the coupon or interest payment was 14%. I wounder how high the yields will get this time.


Goatskull April 7, 2011 at 9:23 am

“Why is not everyone in the military given the option to leave since their employer is re-negotiating their employment contract.”

The simple answer to that is because it’s the military. A military member is to show up for work no if ands or butts. That’s not negotiable. If he/she doesn’t than disciplinary action will be taken. The severity of that action will depend on the member’s chain of command. Now, if a govt shut down goes into effect and military member’s end up getting pay suspensions , more likely than not their chain of command may end up letting those with non essential positions (like members on shore duty working in admin types of positions) to stay home and enjoy the time off and in the end they will still get their pay recouped. However, the military is not obliged to do that. If they are told to show up then they have to show up. The people who will really suffer are the civilian employees of the military. If they are furloughed, they may or may not get a pay recoupment. Back in ‘94/’95, they were furloughed for 21 days and when they went back to their jobs, they did in fact get recouped for those 21 days. However, the federal government was not obliged to do that and that was a different time. With the federal budget the way it is, more likely than not the missed days from work will not be recouped and fed employees will pretty much have to suck it up. This situation sucks to say the least. Not just for govt employees but everyone.


Rick Ward aka mr.rick April 7, 2011 at 9:41 pm

RB The previous congress did their budget duties before the last election. Sen. McConnell had the budget bill filibustered because he thought the Republicans could get a better deal after the elections. The during the lame duck session he (mcconnell)threw a monkey wrench into the works so they (Republicans)could have it their way. So, look it up on and don’t fall into the trap of blaming the wrong side.


Ian April 8, 2011 at 10:00 am

If you are not blaming both sides you have fallen into the trap.


Rick Ward aka mr.rick April 8, 2011 at 4:55 pm

My previous comment only pertains to that particular issue. I.m usually left leaning but not always.


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