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What a Possible Government Shutdown Means Across the Nation

Republican and Democratic lawmakers have until Friday at midnight to agree on a federal budget or force a government shutdown. This would mean that non-essential federal employees will be furloughed, and essential employees will continue to work without pay for at least a week. They will, however, receive back pay once the shutdown ends.

See how public media stations are covering the story, and how the shutdown could play out around the nation:

What’s Essential

Indiana’s WFPL and New York’s WNYC listed essential and non-essential services. Social Security check distribution and air traffic control: Essential. Passport applications and national park operations: Not.

The Lawmakers

Ohio Rep. Pat Tiberi, a Republican, and Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, spoke on WOSU’s
All Sides
and echoed the arguments made by their respective parties on Capitol Hill on Thursday.

Democrats have criticized Republicans for stalemating and trying to force a shutdown, and they’ve lashed out at the GOP for continually asking for more cuts. But Tiberi says they’re against this deadline because the Senate hasn’t passed a spending plan.

WFPL in Indiana reported that their freshman Republican lawmaker Rep. Todd Young criticized President Obama for a lack of leadership on the budget, which has become a key talking point for Republicans.

“President Obama regrettably has been disconnected from this entire negotiation process,” he says. “I know he kicked off his re-election campaign this week and he’s very busy with other things, but right now this one would think would bubble to the top of his list.”

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W. Va., promised to forego his salary of $174,000 a year if the government shuts down, and urged others to do the same, reported West Virginia Public Broadcasting.

The West Virginia Democrat sent fellow senators a letter Thursday, asking them to join in his pledge to forego federal pay if Congress can’t reach a spending agreement.

The Military

KPBS’s Home Post blog assembled an explainer of what will happen to service members if the government shuts down ahead of their April 15 payday. While there is still some uncertainty surrounding the details, Chair of the House Armed Services Committee Rep. Buck McKeon, R-Calif., assured the members of the military that they would be compensated for lost pay when funding is restored.

Should the shutdown occur, they might also call on the “Feed and Forage Act”, a law created in 1861 during the Civil War, to help guide them through the process.

Around the Nation

Maryland and Virginia are two of the states that could be most directly affected by a halted federal government, where as an estimated 250,000 and 120,000 of their residents, respectively, are federal employees. WAMU reports that Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley is meeting with cabinet members to discuss the impact. Northern Virginia Rep. Jim Moran, a Democrat, has called an emergency town hall meeting to discuss the possibility of his district’s 120,000 federal employees being furloughed.

“I think this is going to cause some real pain among my constituents and all of the people in the Washington Metropolitan area,” Moran says. “And of course, it’s not just confined to federal employees.” The owners of many businesses that serve government employees and contractors are bracing for the possibility that the majority of their customers could be furloughed next week.

In Washington, D.C. the streets could be filled with double-parked cars and garbage bags. Parking officers and garbage collectors are a few of the non-essential parties that might have next week off.

The District’s tourist draws such as the Smithsonian museums, the National Zoo and monuments would all be off limits as well.

Maine is less worried about a shutdown lasting less than two weeks. The Maine Public Broadcasting Network reported that international travelers will run into the most immediate trouble, as passport offices will be closed.

In Alaska, 16,000 federal workers could be affected. The Alaska Public Radio Network reported that many of those employees are still waiting to know what that might mean.

Parks and Landmarks

Oregon Public Broadcasting reported on the possible closure of the national parks. While those run by contractors, such as Mt. Hood, would remain open, all federal parks would be down to emergency staff only.

Talk It Out

PRI’s “The Takeaway” turned to James Miller III, director for the Office of Management and Budget from 1985 to 1988, to learn more of what to expect.

“The politicians and the people in the administration get all upset and riled up about it,” Miller says, but it’s not as bad as people think. During his time at the OMB, Miller remembers getting upset as a government shutdown loomed. At that point, President Reagan took him aside and said: “Jim, just settle down. Let’s close ‘er down and see if anybody notices.”

WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show asks two reporters ‘What would happen if there were a shutdown?’

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