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Shutdown? What shutdown? States will carry on despite impasse in Washington

By   /   October 1, 2013  /   3 Comments

Part 14 of 51 in the series Shutdown 2013
CALLING IT QUITS: House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, center, speaks briefly with reports at 1 a.m. Tuesday. Many states say they will be fine without federal funds in the short-term.

CALLING IT QUITS: House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, center, speaks briefly with reports at 1 a.m. Tuesday. Many states say they will be fine without federal funds in the short-term.

 

By Eric Boehm | Watchdog.org

The federal government shut down at midnight Monday after Congress was unable to reach an agreement on several budget issues.

But as Tuesday dawns, state governments will carry on with little or no negative consequences in the short-term.

Though the shutdown will limit visitors to national parks and will mean federal bureaucrats get a few days of unpaid vacation time, the effects will be little felt outside of the Washington, D.C., beltway.  From New Mexico to New Jersey, state governments have contingency plans in place to deal with shortfalls of federal cash, while other states say they will hardly notice that the lights went out on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Virginia, the state with the largest percentage of federal workers, will continue federally funded programs through Friday.

“It is our hope that this will give budget negotiators additional time to reach a resolution of the budget impasse,” Martin L. Kent, Gov. Bob McDonnell’s chief of staff, wrote in a memo.

But as many as 57,000 federal workers in the state — that’s about one-third of the total — could face furloughs during the impasse.

While federal workers might get an unplanned vacation, state governments should be just fine, even when it comes to federally funded programs like welfare.

Enrique Knell, spokesman for New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, said, for now, the state anticipates having reserve balances that could be used to cover many social welfare programs.

“The Governor thinks this is a continued display of the dysfunction in Washington D.C. It’s ridiculous that states have to plan for a possible federal government shutdown, while we work hard at the state level to balance the budget and provide basic government services as efficiently and effectively as possible,” he wrote in an email to New Mexico Watchdog.

It’s “business as usual” in Pennsylvania, according to Jay Pagni, spokesman for state’s Budget Office.

“From a short-term perspective, the governor has directed all agencies that do receive federal funds that business will continue and services will continue to be provided in the short-term,” Pagni said. “We’re closely monitoring what is happening in Washington and eagerly waiting to see what resolution will come about.”

The federal government has shut down 17 times since 1976, but there has not been a shutdown since a 21-day standoff that ended on Jan. 6 1997.

Even at the federal level, this will hardly be a complete shutdown.

Three-quarters of White House staff will be sent home if Congress can’t reach a deal, but it’s not like they’ll stop the tours of the presidential mansion. Those tours ended in March as part of a highly publicized fight over the federal budgetary sequester.

The shutdown will keep park rangers from giving tours at America’s national parks, monuments and historical sites.  But it may also keep the Ku Klux Klan from holding a rally at Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania, so that probably counts as a wash.

Nearly all employees of the Defense Department, including those running the electronic surveillance programs at the NSA, will keep working through the shutdown.  So too will the 16,000 FBI agents at 56 field offices around the nation.

The New York Times reports that “most” State Department employees will continue to work, as will “more than half” of the bureaucrats at the Department of Health and Human Services.  The Food and Drug Administration will keep inspecting food, National Wildlife Association employees will keep caring for animals in federal parks and the United States Geological Survey will keep Americans aware of any impending volcanic eruptions and earthquakes.

Entitlement programs will keep on spending, and the Treasury will keep making payments on the national debt.

Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor hail, nor a government shutdown will keep the U.S. Postal Service from delivering the mail.

The greatest impact of the government shutdown, for many Americans, may be an even greater exasperation with Washington.

“I think it’s frustration that in all the issues we have to tackle that this goes on. That’s not what those people are there to do, shut things down,” said Faye Whitbeck, president of the International Falls Area Chamber of Commerce in Minnesota. “Cooperation is the name of the game and the name of progress.”

Boehm is a reporter for Watchdog.org and can be reached at EBoehm@Watchdog.org.  Follow him on Twitter @EricBoehm87.

Rob Nikolewski, Ken Ward and Matt Kittle contributed to this report.

Part of 51 in the series Shutdown 2013
  1. Shutdown plan: Virginia will carry federally funded state workers until Oct. 4
  2. OKC National Memorial and Museum will stay open regardless of federal shutdown
  3. TN rep equates looming government shutdown with hostage crisis
  4. Government shutdown won’t shut down NSA spying
  5. 7 myths about a federal government shutdown
  6. Obamacare goes full-speed ahead as military pay enters uncharted waters
  7. Shutdown sparks New Jersey confusion about Obamacare
  8. Federal shutdown could furlough 57,000 Virginians
  9. ‘Business as usual’ for PA state government as feds prepare for shutdown
  10. Union plans rally as MN braces for federal shutdown
  11. Only government you don’t know about could go away in Illinois
  12. Shutdown? NM seems OK on the state level, but federal workers will feel the pinch
  13. WI congressional delegation soldiers on in Obamacare-shutdown battle
  14. Shutdown? What shutdown? States will carry on despite impasse in Washington
  15. McAuliffe tries to ride shutdown to victory in November
  16. NM delegation on gov’t shutdown: It’s the other side’s fault
  17. Panda Cam goes dark as government shutdown cripples cute
  18. U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin: I’m shutting down, too
  19. Missouri’s Wagner declines congressional pay during shutdown
  20. GIs take first battle of government shutdown
  21. The horror: Shutdown delays pro-Obamacare video contest
  22. Obamacare device tax ‘devastating’ to TN manufacturers
  23. Did The New Republic call for Obama to dissolve Congress?
  24. 4 reasons to cross the Potomac during the shutdown
  25. Are furloughed park employees trying to pick a fight on Facebook?
  26. Shutdown is ‘boom time’ for political fundraising
  27. Sorry Yogi: Reid calls move to open parks a ‘wacky idea’
  28. World War II vets 90, government shutdown 0
  29. Shutdown shouldn’t alter NM oil and gas bottom line
  30. FL tourism industry is magic, shutdown or not
  31. Fed shutdown leaves Americans stranded abroad
  32. Government shutdown brings relief to Main Street
  33. GOP’s Johanns: People mad, feel ‘duped’ into believing government shutdown would stop ObamaCare
  34. Chris Matthews’ weak grasp of government shutdown history
  35. U.S. senator turns total shutdown into partial shutdown
  36. Fed shutdown grounds plan to airdrop possibly harmful substance on TN land
  37. Ohio vets ready to storm World War II Memorial
  38. Some states battling with feds to keep parks, landmarks open during shutdown
  39. Federal tourist blockades called ‘vindictive’ in Virginia
  40. Veterans’ day: Ohio vets conquer World War II Memorial during government shutdown
  41. E-Verify: Is Obama happy to see right-to-work database go?
  42. Two battlefields raise the question: Who maintains Civil War sites?
  43. Contradictions abound in federal shutdown policy
  44. Park Service losing $76 million a day in shutdown
  45. Nebraska federal judge tells Congress to ‘go to hell’
  46. Shutdown renews call to move western forests, parks under state control
  47. How to make NM less vulnerable to federal gov’t shutdowns
  48. Are senators playing selective service in shutdown politics?
  49. Double dipping: Shutdown means double pay for Oregon federal workers
  50. No double dipping for furloughed federal workers in Virginia
  51. Not so fast: Federal workers in Wisconsin must repay unemployment benefits

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Eric is a reporter for Watchdog.org and former bureau chief for Pennsylvania Independent. He lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he enjoys great weather and low taxes while writing about state governments, pensions, labor issues and economic/civil liberty. Previously, he worked for more than three years in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, covering Pennsylvania state politics and occasionally sneaking across the border to Delaware to buy six-packs of beer. He has also lived (in order of desirability) in Brussels, Belgium, Pennsburg, Pa., Fairfield, Conn., and Rochester, N.Y. His work has appeared in Reason Magazine, National Review Online, The Freeman Magazine, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Washington Examiner and elsewhere. He received a bachelor's degree from Fairfield University in 2009, but he refuses to hang on his wall until his student loans are fully paid off sometime in the mid-2020s. When he steps away from the computer, he enjoys drinking craft beers in classy bars, cheering for an eclectic mix of favorite sports teams (mostly based in Philadelphia) and traveling to new places.

  • PastorJames

    RED HERRING ALERT!!!!!!!! Somebody find a BIG RED FISH and slap anyone who reads this article!

    I find it incredibly interesting that you are choosing to spin the shutdown and the negative effects that are already being felt by federal workers who were actually furloughed today by making a red herring out of whether or not, state and local municipalities (which are not subject to a federal shutdown) are affected.

    It is equally infuriating when an author assumes that a reader will blindly accept any logical fallacy that is vomited out as truth! So let’s expose the actual truth…

    • 400,000 people are or already have been furloughed. Walk onto any military base and ask a soldier for their civilian counterpart for proof! It’s not all bright and shiny in the land of DOD Civilians right now who are more concerned about how they are going to pay their bills than if they are able to go to the Smithsonian.
    • The US Postal Service has it’s own revenue stream and does not rely on Congressional appropriations which makes it exempt from the shutdown. So, yes, you will get your mail. However, the civilians who help soldiers repair their tanks, trucks, and vehicles, so that they are mission ready are considered non-essential and have been furloughed…Figure that one out.

    Go ahead and paint the shutdown as a minor inconvenience to detract from the fact that members of my family, a large amount of people from my community, and members of my church, were furloughed today with no indication of when they will be able to go back to work, when they will get paid, and HAD NO INTENTION OF GOING ON AN UNPAID VACATION! I don’t know what land you live in, but please consider visiting Fort Bragg, NC. I’ll be more than happy to show you what a Government shutdown means and who it has affected.

  • AtypicalConservative

    The point of the article isn’t to act as a red herring. The point is to illustrate just how useless the federal government is and how the state governments matter far more.

  • SixSixSix

    That is the red herring.