With government shutdown looming, federal workers and the public prepare for the pain

Published: Sep. 25, 2023 at 8:32 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - The federal government is on the verge of shutting down for the third time in 10 years, although the shutdown in 2018 was a partial shutdown.

The shutdown in 2013, when the GOP was trying to repeal Obamacare, was full, complete and lasted 17 days.

With no clear path forward, it appears that Congress is prepared to shut it down again, affecting more than 4,000,000 federal workers and dozens of programs and agencies that provide services to the general public.

“I don’t think there’s enough time to work out a deal,” said former Congressman Ron Barber, who was in Washington when the government shut down in 2013. “Plus, the extreme nature of the opposition is going to prevent anything, I think, from passing.”

If nothing passes, the government shuts down at midnight on Saturday and for many, the hurt begins.

“It was devastating, I think, to a lot of people,” Barber said of the 2013 shutdown. “It means we’re going to see a lot of federal employees without salaries, our military may not get paid even though they still are required to be on duty, it could impact the border patrol.”

Border Patrol and Customs agents would still be required to work, but they would not draw a paycheck. Same for the airmen at Davis Monthan. The civilian workers, some 21,000 of them, would be furloughed with no paycheck.

The most obvious impact for the general population will be the closing of the national parks, like the Grand Canyon and Saguaro National Park.

Last year, there were more than 10,000,000 visits to the national parks in Arizona.

If the government shuts down, they will be off-limits. “Once the gate is closed, the park will be considered closed,” Park Superintendent Andy Fischer, told us in 2013. “So all visitor services, all visitor centers, roads, trails, everything that visitors will be using, all of those things will be closed.”

We talked with a national park manager today who said he has not been notified about a closure, signaling that there’s confidence it won’t happen.

But if it does, it could create more chaos along the U.S./Mexican border, which already sees chaos. It will slow down or maybe end food inspections, which are important for all the fruits and vegetables coming across the border.

For those who travel, new applications for passports will come to a halt, as will applications for specialized gun and ammunition purchases.

Children’s food programs like WIC will not be funded.

“It will affect all kinds of services we don’t even know the federal government has a hand in,” Barber said. “And it will be painful.”

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