timberland 2011 How the federal government shutdown affects Hampton Roads
When the federal government shut down early Saturday morning, it does not mean that everything stops.
Essential federal services, like military operations, go on as planned.
However, things not deemed to be vital can be halted until Congress provides for them, meaning that the federal employees who provide those services could be placed on furlough.
The largest impact in Virginia would be on the state’s roughly 180,000 federal employees. About 27 percent of those employees, or 50,000, work in Hampton Roads, according to the Virginia Employment Commission. Tens of thousands of others work for firms that depend on federal contracts.
“What you’re trying to do is not spend government money,” said Craig Quigley, executive director of the Hampton Roads Military and Federal Facilities Alliance. “You’re going to see a great reduction in flight operations, road training, in ships steaming. You’re not going to enter into any new contracts to obligate the government to pay for them.”
Congress was unable to pass a spending bill Friday to avoid a shutdown.
The last government shutdown happened in October 2013 and lasted 16 days after Republicans and Democrats couldn’t agree on whether to raise the debt ceiling.
At the peak of that shutdown, about 850,000 people were furloughed, according to a 2013 report from the Office of Management and Budget. That number went down when most Department of Defense civilian employees returned to work after the Pentagon implemented the Pay Our Military Act.
Cities and counties have budgets that don’t largely rely on federal money. But the more protracted a shutdown is, the larger the effect, officials said.
“Hampton like the entire region has more people employed by the federal government than most areas, so we would have more people furloughed,” Hampton City Manager Mary Bunting said in a statement.
Congress could have passed a short term spending resolution, which it did once in December. That would keep the government open until Feb. 16. President Donald Trump supports doing this, but The Washington Post reported Thursday that Senate Democrats have gathered enough votes to block that resolution. Virginia Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, both Democrats,
are in that group.
“We do not support perpetuating the current budgetary dysfunction that is hurting our country and our commonwealth,” Kaine and Warner said in a joint statement. “The Republican leadership has to get serious about finding a budget deal and quit relying on short term patches.”
Congress has been unable to reach a compromise on a federal budget because of two key issues. One is funding the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which provides coverage to families that make too much money to qualify for Medicaid. The other bargaining point is for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. Before Trump announced he would shutter the program, it protected hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants who entered the United States as minors under the supervision of their parents.
Trump asked Congress to think of a solution that could replace DACA. However, he hasn’t yet shown support for a specific plan.
Here’s a roundup of ways a government shutdown could affect the Peninsula:
Cities, counties and the stateA federal government shutdown would more immediately impact the residents of Peninsula counties and cities than local government services themselves, state and local officials said Thursday.
A federal shutdown does not affect city operations, like paying employees or running programs, and the city has not experienced a shutdown that has “inhibited our ability to provide services,” Bunting said.
“If federal employees aren’t getting paychecks, they aren’t always able to make payments on time, much less spend money on restaurants and retail,” Bunting said. “Lenders here tend to be forgiving, but we would likely see a slowdown in the local economy if workers are furloughed.”
Newport News City Manager Cynthia Rohlf said through a spokeswoman that a shutdown would not affect city services.
The federal government shut down at the stroke of midnight Friday, halting all but the most essential operations and marring the one year anniversary of President Donald Trump’s inauguration in a striking display of Washington dysfunction.(Andrew Taylor, Alan Fram and Zeke Miller)
A shutdown for any length of time would hurt the region economically and affect people psychologically, said York County Administrator Neil Morgan.
A shutdown may cause people to decide against taking trips to places such as Yorktown or the Colonial National Historical Park or prompt government employees to eat out less, Morgan said.
Morgan said the largest pot of federal money spent in the county is in the school division, accounting for 6 to 8 percent of its budget. He didn’t think that would create any short term problem, noting that the county had funding reserves, unless a shutdown lasted a long time.
Poquoson City Manager Randy Wheeler said the biggest effect in Poquoson would be on those who work for the federal government. The federal dollars in Poquoson’s operating budget are small.
Gloucester County Administrator Brent Fedors also said a shutdown would affect the average person before the county. He said about 58 percent of residents commute over the Coleman Bridge for work, many to jobs with the federal government.
On the state level, a spokesman for Gov. Ralph Northam said this is why the state has cash reserves, and why Northam is calling to boost them. The two year budget proposed an accelerated flow of funds some $271 million to bring that reserve up to $427 million by the summer of 2020.