How Would A Partial Government Shutdown Affect Maine?
At the time this article was written, the federal government was on track for a partial shutdown. This shutdown would take affect on Friday morning (well, midnight on Thursday, September 30th).
If it does happen, it would be the second shutdown in three years. That last shutdown, which ran from December 22nd, 2018, to January 25th, 2019, was the longest in the country's history.
The question on many people's minds is, if that does end up happening, how would it affect us here in Maine?
According to Reuters, about 60% of the 2.1 million workers in the federal civilian workforce would be "furloughed". Many of the furloughed would be in non-critical roles like the people who would in the processing departments a various agencies. For example, those who are responsible for processing passport applications.
Fortunately, as funds have already been allocated for many critical programs, they would continue to operate for a few days or weeks before they were affected.
How would it affect the country's response to the COVID-19 pandemic? Just like other agencies, over 60% of the Centers For Disease Control workers could be furloughed. Some federal workers could be asked to stay on the job, if their layoff would present a risk to public safety. However, they probably would not be paid until the shutdown situation was resolved. While the CDC would continue to function, it is likely their operational capabilities would be diminished.
Federally operated museums and national parks would all close. In theory, this would include Maine's Acadia National Park. However, at this time, it is not 100% clear if the park would need to completely shutdown.
In order to avoid the shutdown, or re-open the government, Congress would need to pass a spending bill. Last week, Democrats in the House of Representatives passed a bill that would renew government funding, but it included raising the cap on federal borrowing. Republicans object to the increase on the debt limit. One surefire way for the budget to pass would be for the Democrats to drop the debt ceiling increase from the funding legislation.