Since Congress couldn’t agree on a federal budget for the next fiscal year, a large portion of which concerned the controversial Affordable Care Act, the U.S. government, the largest employer in the country, was forced to shut down at midnight Oct. 1.
But just because the House and Senate are duking it out in Washington, D.C. doesn’t mean the shutdown doesn’t affect us here in Dallas/Fort Worth. In fact, it could cost the country upwards of $2 billion, reports CBS News, if previous shutdowns are any indication—potentially having significant implications for Texans.
Dallas-based federal government workers were sent home not too long after arriving Tuesday morning due to Congress’ failure to compromise on a method for spending federal funds for the next year. So, thousands of people will be out of work until both sides can settle on a way to move the budget forward. Plus, their paychecks are delayed, if the shutdown allows them to be paid at all.
I am especially aware of the shutdown because my mom was furloughed Tuesday as a result of it. My father, though a retired government employee, was with a federal government agency for more than 30 years and would have been forced to stay home today. My parents remember the last time the government faced a partial shutdown in 1995—when they couldn’t work for 21 days.
Fifty percent of Department of Defense workers and 80 percent of Treasury staff are being furloughed, while 94 percent of Environmental Protection Agency employees won’t be allowed to report to work during the shutdown. There’s a really informative interactive feature on the New York Times today breaking down which government workers stay home or go into work.
Here at home, all national parks and the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum at SMU were closed Tuesday until further notice. National historical parks and forests in Texas are also not operating.
“During the shutdown we will not be selling tickets or updating this website and our social media accounts. Please check www.usa.gov for updated information on when we will be re-opening the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum,” the library’s site read Tuesday.
Since the post office makes enough money off stamps and other postal fees to operate daily without tax dollars, mail delivery won’t be affected.
You might want to head out soon for your flu shot, because the shutdown may have an effect on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “ability to detect and investigate disease outbreaks.” The Guardian reported, “The annual influenza program – the one that tracks the flu and helps people get flu shots—has been shut down.” The Guardian’s Eric McCann also added that the CDC isn’t able to offer local agencies the support they usually receive in determining “unusual outbreaks.”
Additionally, any low-income women and children using the WIC program’s benefits, which include vouchers for nutritious food and breastfeeding support, are out of luck during the shutdown. Individual states may be able to help pick up the slack here, but the funding for emergency situations is temporary.
Thankfully, active-duty military will still receive their payments on time, and the Department of Veterans Affairs can still offer health services to veterans. Those applying for unemployment benefits will see a delay in processing their requests due to the shutdown.
While the shutdown won’t halt meat inspections by the Food and Drug Administration, the FDA will “suspend most routine safety inspections,” according to NBC News.
There’s no telling how long the shutdown, which President Obama called “preventable,” will last, but we are open to hearing from BubbleLife readers about how the government shutdown is affecting your family’s life in the meantime.