MIAMI (CBS4) – As the final hours tick down on the last continuing resolution to keep the government funded, President Barack Obama has started the process of shutting down the federal government. But, parts of the government that impact Floridians will likely keep running.
The problems start with a standoff between Republicans in the House, who want massive spending cuts, and Democrats in the Senate who want smaller cuts. The debate and negotiations are likely to run right up until Friday.
Neither side is blinking because to do so would give their opponents political ammunition to claim victory, or run the risk of alienating their base. So, the government is expected to shutdown at the end of the day Friday if a deal can’t be done.
More than 275 Florida park employees are waiting to hear what will happen.
The last time something like this happened it was 1996. Everglades National Park was shut down for 21 days.
“I just wish that the president and congress would get together and settle on something.” a park visitor told CBS4’s David Sutta on Tuesday.
The Office of Management and Budget Deputy Director Jeffrey Zients sent out a memo to the heads of government agencies that said: “Given the realities of the calendar, good management requires that we continue contingency planning for an orderly shutdown should the negotiations not be completed by” Friday at midnight.
Zients said that all discussions should be “focused on the logistical and managerial issues related to a potential shutdown to ensure that managers are prepared to implement your shutdown plans should the need arise.”
So what exactly would a government shutdown mean for South Floridians?
First, Social Security checks will more than likely still be mailed. So South Florida seniors on social security should not worry about the checks not coming. Past that, a lot of the government funding issues like Medicare, Medicaid, and food stamps are unknown during a shutdown.
Anthony Illobre, a Broward county resident told CBS4’s Sutta, “This whole thing is a nightmare.”
At the Miami passport office today the thought hadn’t crossed many people’s minds that a government shutdown likely meant no new passports.
Rose Marie Shaw is headed to Jamaica in two weeks but could be stuck here.
“I could be but I hope not,” said Shaw.
Shaw is trying to get it done by Friday. Regardless she hopes Washington gets it together as well.
“I think that both sides need to stop playing for points,” said Shaw
The shutdown will also cause the furlough of hundreds of thousands of federal employees. They will not be paid during the furlough, but will receive back pay. Federal contractors will not be paid and will not receive any missed payments.
Essential services like air traffic control and national security agencies would be kept running at full capacity. And, according to CNN, the mail would still be delivered.
But, the shutdown could cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. The 26-day shutdown in 1996 cost taxpayers $1.4 billion in back salaries. Plus, businesses near government agencies or parks that rely on the government workers for business will also suffer.
Politically, it could be toxic to either side. Current polling has shown more in the general public will hold House Republicans to blame for a government shutdown. But as anger towards Washington grows during a shutdown, no politician will likely be left unscathed.
Still, there is still faint hope that as both sides stare into the abyss of a government shutdown, Democrats and Republicans will come to their senses and not be so ideologically rigid that they can’t work together to strike a deal everyone can be happy with in the end.