The first government shutdown in 17 years began Tuesday morning and Midwest residents will feel the impact.
As of midnight, a partial shutdown was triggered when the Republican-led House and Democratic-controlled Senate ran out of time to agree on a temporary funding bill. The dispute is forcing about 800,000 federal workers off the job and suspending all but non-essential government activities.
While the partial government shutdown might have caused some inconviences for some, others are taking a larger hit. It means a loss of work and pay.
The impact is hefty in Bellevue. For hundreds who work at Offutt Air Force Base, this is more than political rhetoric. Ten thousand people work at Offutt.
Col Greg Guilot said, "The most immediate impact required emergency furlough of two thirds of 3,000 civilian employees. So, around 2,000 of them came in today and learned that they would be furloughed through the shutdown until we get an appropriations bill."
And what happens at the base affects Main Street in Bellevue.
Eric Ging has a Bar B Que restaurant there. It's normally busy with base personnel at lunch but Eric is noticing the difference.
"We started to get a few more uniform people and then it slowed down about one," he said. We only had one hour run from 11 to 1, so it slowed down a lot. We were down 20 percent today."
With fewer civilians on base, the enlisted personnel will have to pick up the slack but Colonel Guilot says the safe operation of Offutt is not an issue.
"What we've been asked to do is fly all the missions that deal with national security. So, a number of those that will go at normal levels, we also need to prepare for overseas contingency that will continue at normal levels."
The Federal Courthouse will continue to stay open, using reserve funds, for about two weeks. If the shutdown continues past that, non-essential employees would be furloughed.
Social Security and Medicare Benefits
Officials have told WOWT 6 News benefits will continue on schedule.
TSA and other airport employees are considered essential and should continue to work. Travelers flying into and out of Eppley Airfield will not see any changes.
Mail and Passports
Mail service will continue, unaffected. Postal Passport Acceptance Facilities will also continue to accept passport applications from customers. Processing time will remain at four weeks or less for routine service and two weeks door-to-door for expedited service with Priority Mail Express both ways.
National Parks and Museums
All National Parks and Museums are closed until further notice, including Homestead National Monument in Beatrice. In addition, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is closed. The closure impacts the national wildlife refuges, waterfowl production areas, Ecological Services field offices, fish hatcheries, fish technology center, fish health center, fish and wildlife conservation offices, and Joint Venture offices in Nebraska. In Iowa, DeSoto and Boyer Chute National Wildlife Refuges are also closed. The Strategic Air and Space Museum in Ashland remains open. Officials said the facility receives no direct funding from the federal government.
What They're Saying:
“These veterans who fought to save Americans’ freedom and liberty are being denied maybe the only chance they have to see their memorial. The barriers should not have been placed to prevent these veterans from seeing the monument to their sacrifice,” Grassley said. “The federal government’s closure shouldn’t impact an open air monument that is available at all times of the day. It just doesn’t meet the common sense test.”
In a letter to the Secretary of the Interior Tuesday morning, Grassley wrote that a flight of World War II veterans from Iowa were told by the National Park Service to continue with their flight to Washington, D.C. The trip, arranged by the Story County Freedom Flight Committee, is set up to honor Story County veterans of World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. Grassley had the opportunity to see the veterans at the World War II Memorial after the barricades had already been breached.
Congressman Jeff Fortenberry
“During the federal government’s shutdown, our office remains open to address our constitutional duties and meet urgent constituent requests,” Fortenberry said. “We will operate our Washington and Nebraska offices with less than a third of our regular staff. Remaining staff will be on hand to help address pressing constituent needs. Unfortunately, ordinary constituent services will be delayed.”
“I am thankful that we passed a bill to pay our troops, which the president has signed. Regrettably, I anticipate this government shutdown to continue in the near term. The House has sent four different proposals to the U.S. Senate. Negotiations need to start now. If the whole matter cannot be solved, we should continue to address components of government funding.”