Federal Government Avoids Shutdown, Temporarily
Late Friday night, a temporary budget deal was reached to avoid a shutdown of the federal government. Here's what Town and Country-Manchester Patch readers should know about a possible future shutdown.
Late Friday night CNN is reporting that Democratic and Republican negotiators reached a budget deal that will avoid a government shutdown.
According to a CNN breaking news alert, House Speaker John Boehner said the House will pass a short-term measure that will keep the government funded through the middle of next week, when a longer-term package is expected to be enacted.
However, U.S. Congressman Todd Akin's camp tells Patch that a short term solution is not the answer to solving the bigger issue of government overspending which could ultimately lead to the bankruptcy of the nation. Akin represents Missouri's second district, including Manchester and Town and Country, and is in Washington, D.C. working with the rest of congress on the budget.
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The federal government is in danger of a shutdown if the legislature does not pass a budget by midnight Friday.
U.S. Congressman Todd Akin represents Missouri's second district, including Manchester and Town and Country, and is in Washington, D.C. working with the rest of congress on the budget.
“I am doing everything I can to prevent a lapse in federal appropriations. A government shutdown would be costly and disruptive. Yet, the Senate is refusing to fund the government at all rather than funding it at 98.2% of 2010 levels, as we suggested in our very first CR (continuing resolution)," Akin said in a press release.
"No one wants the shutdown, the shutdown is not desirable," Steve Taylor, Akin's press secretary tells Patch. "There are a lot of negotiations going on."
But if there is no agreement by midnight, here is some of what will happen and how it will affect the St. Louis area, including Town and Country and Manchester residents.
- National Park Service cannot operate under a federal shutdown. This would affect the Gateway Arch and the Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site. No one can enter the arch once the government shuts down.
- Mail service will continue because the U.S. Postal Service is not subsidized by U.S. tax dollars.
- Passport applications will not be accepted at area post offices starting Saturday. The State Department's Passport Day will be canceled.
- IRS operations will be scaled back. However, taxes must be completed by the tax deadline, April 18, but there is concern there could be a delay in refund checks until the government is fully funded.
- Military operations will continue, because they are required to under federal law. However, some members of the military will not be paid until government operations resume. They will continue working and accrue, but not receive, paychecks.
- Nationally, an estimated 800,000 federal employees will receive furloughs and layoffs. Employees of the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI in the area may still have to show up to work and accrue paychecks. but not receive them until the federal government is back up and running.
- Social Security checks will continue to be processed because that department is part of long-term federal funding.
- Small business loans and Federal Housing Association loans for housing will be affected.
With no agreement Friday evening, those consequences seem to be coming closer to a reality.
"The reason it's getting close is because there was no budget passed last year," Taylor tells Patch. "There's been these ad hoc resolutions and short-term emergency funding because Congress did not pass a budget last year. We shouldn't even be considering this budget at this point. "
Taylor said this is not a proper way to run a government, and it's not what a legislature is supposed to do.
"Even President Obama says that's no way to run a government," Taylor said.
Taylor said although a short-term shutdown would be problematic, even more dire than the temporary shutdown of the government is the spending that could lead to the complete bankruptcy of the nation.
But some area residents aren't buying that it's lawmakers protecting the nation's best interest that has the country heading toward a shutdown.
"It's politics," Manchester resident Bill Ruebsam tells Patch.
"They're all working for themselves. They don't care," Don Binz, of unincorporated St. Louis County, said.
However, Missouri State Rep. John Diehl of Town and Country said it may take a federal shutdown to get things in order.
"We clearly need to get federal spending under control, so whatever it takes to get people’s attention, because spending is out of control," the Republican said.
Thursday, the House passed a contiuing resolution that would fund the armed forces for the rest of the 2011 fiscal year, ensuring members of the military would be paid. The resolution also funded the rest of the government for another week, Akin said. However, the Senate has not passed that resolutios, so as of Friday evening, members of the military will not be paid if the shutdown happens.
However, Taylor said people receiving social security won't see such drastic changes.
"If there's a short term government shut down, it will be transparent to people with social security, they won't see a difference, but if we don't fix the problem in the long term, we'll have real issues with federal programs like social security and medicare," Taylor explained.
It's an issue that's important to those who depend on social security.
"As long as they don't shut down the social security part of the government, we'll be ok," Manchester resident Bill Ruebsam tells Patch.
"We've been watching carefully," Governor Jay Nixon told Patch Friday. "Our hope is that they can get an arrangement worked out."
Nixon said the State of Missouri has a two-week contingency plan in place in the event of a federal shutdown.
"We're well prepared and have a plan to keep the services that Missouri citizens need," Nixon said.
The shutdown would only begin to affect Missouri after two weeks pass, Nixon said. At that point, public services funded in part by federal monies, such as law enforcement and mental health facilities, may be affected.
Despite reported negotiations in Washington, as a the reality of a shutdown happening nears Friday evening, Akin and others don't seem to be budging.
“The stalemate in Washington is over one thing and one thing only: excessive spending," Akin said in a press release.
*Patch Reporter Jeff Brandt contributed to this report.