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How much local impact will federal government shutdown have?

Cary Ashby • Jan 19, 2018 at 5:43 PM

A federal government shutdown would have far reaching consequences for millions of working families across the country and could actually cost the government billions of dollars.

Local officials are saying it’s “business as usual” and it’s possible there won’t be a large impact in Huron County.

“As of now, business as usual,” said Jennifer Reed, director of the Huron County Department of Job and Family Services.

“Until Congress acts, we will not fully know the ramifications. Benefits have already been issued for this month. The last time this occurred, in 2013, Congress made a decision to fund essential programs, including Medicaid and food assistance. However, we will not know that yet here. Nonetheless, our agency is here to serve Huron County and is open for all programs.”

Millions of working families across the country will feel the effects of a shutdown, which could cost the government billions of dollars each day.

Huron County Commissioner Terry Boose, however, said he doesn’t believe a short-term shutdown will have a local impact.

“To the best of my knowledge, it would not affect us. An extended shutdown might,” he added, referring to various grants. “But a temporary one I don’t think would affect anything.”

The mail will still be delivered, post offices will remain open, the U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force will operate as usual, Americans will receive their Social Security checks and Medicare and Medicaid will continue to function, according to the Record-Courier, a Portage County newspaper.

When the Reflector reached out to the Social Security Administration (SSA) in Sandusky, a representative directed inquiries to the Chicago office which covers six states, including Ohio. The office issued a statement about the contingency plan from Mick Mulvaney, director of the office of management and budget. 

“We are excepting almost 53,000 employees from furloughs under applicable exceptions to the Antideficiency Act. The functions of the excepted employees will remain largely the same as those described in our 2015 plan, with the addition of program integrity activities for our field offices and disability determination services (DDS) due to extended availability of our program integrity funds through March 2018,” Mulvaney said. 

“In past years, dedicated program integrity funds were available for 12 months. The 2017 appropriation extended the period of availability to 18 months, so any program integrity funds carried over would be available during a lapse in appropriations beginning October 1, 2017.”

Also, Mulvaney said “funding for the programs under Titles II, XVI, and XVIII of the Social Security Act will continue, even in the event of a lapse in appropriations.”

Indefinite trust funds supply Title II and Title XVIII benefits. General revenues fund Title XVI payments. However, the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2017 funds those payments through the first quarter of fiscal year 2018.

While there appears little appetite in the Senate to shut down the government, the House of Representatives is deeply divided.

A number of Republicans, such as Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, are demanding more than the $549 billion for defense that is permitted by the law in the 2018 federal spending year. In return, Democrats want to spend more on domestic programs than the $516 billion allowed in 2018.

In a conference call with Ohio reporters Tuesday, Portman said during a private meeting last week with Senate Republicans that Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis “painted a pretty dismal picture about our preparedness.”

“We do have a situation right now with more and more responsibilities overseas,” Portman told the media. “We have to have additional defense spending.”

Sabrina Singh, deputy communications director of the Democratic National Committee, estimates the “forced government shutdown on (President) Donald Trump’s watch could cost the economy nearly a billion dollars each day.”

“If that wasn’t enough, federal employees will be furloughed, government services many families depend on will be put on hold and members of the military will be expected to work without pay,” she said in a prepared statement. “While Republicans point fingers, every-day Americans, many of whom are already hurting, are bracing for the devastating impacts of a potential shutdown.”

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