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Here's how a government shutdown could affect Montana - KXLH.com | Helena, Montana

Here's how a government shutdown could affect Montana

Posted: Jan 19, 2018 4:47 PM Updated:

If Congress can't pass a budget funding proposal by midnight on Friday, most non-essential parts of the federal government will shut down.

Late Friday afternoon, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said he thinks there is a good chance Congress will reach a deal before Monday, making a shutdown — albeit perhaps a short one — sound more likely. Mulvaney floated the possibility of weekend votes.

"If the Senate changes anything it's going to have to back to the House," Mulvaney told reporters just before 6 p.m. "Now in theory, the Senate could deal with it before midnight and the House could in some fashion deal with it before midnight. It's more likely that if the Senate makes any changes it would take the House a while to get everybody back for the vote."

If a shut-down does happen, for Montana, that means reduced services at community healthcare centers and restricted access to national parks, but services like Social Security and airport operations will remain functioning.

Last month, lawmakers faced a similar deadline but passed a continuing resolution on December 21, keeping the government functioning for another month. 

Now, Democrats are pushing a solution for recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. They insist it be addressed before the deadline Friday, but it's not clear whether the two parties will reach an agreement by then, according to CNN.

Addressing the looming shutdown, Sen. Steve Daines R-Mont., released a statement at 4:14 p.m. Friday saying, Here’s the choice we have before us today, a choice we have less than seven hours to make: we can either keep the government open and fund health insurance for 24,000 Montana kids or shutdown the government...the House has passed an agreement to keep the lights on and fund children’s health insurance. The President has said he will sign this agreement to keep the lights on and fund children’s health insurance. Now it’s up to this body.”

While a shutdown is undesirable, not all federally funded organizations will grind to a halt, but many will. It all depends on whether or not services are considered essential or nonessential. Essential services will continue and workers will remain on the job, but they won't know when their next paycheck will arrive.

Here's how a government shutdown could affect Montanans:

Montana community healthcare providers like RiverStone Health in Billings will be hurt, according to Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont. 

"For 110 days, the politicians who control Congress have refused to provide long term funding for community health centers, which provide health care for 100,000 Montanans," Tester stated in a press release early Friday morning.

Social Security checks will continue to be mailed, as much of the process is automated. Montanans will continue to receive mail as well because the Postal Service pays for itself.

Airport operations like Air Traffic Control, the Transportation Security Administration and Customs and Border Protection will remain operational.

The Interior Department said it will try to keep national parks like Yellowstone and other public lands "as accessible as possible." During the last shutdown, the National Park Service closed national parks and national monuments completely.

"We fully expect the government to remain open, however in the event of a shutdown, Yellowstone National Park will remain as accessible as possible while still following all applicable laws and procedures," Vickie Regula, a public affairs assistant at the Yellowstone Public Affairs Office stated.

Zoos and museums will likely be closed.

Federal courts will remain open and operate normally for at least three weeks, according to a spokeswoman at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

The U.S. military will continue operating, but active-duty personnel will not be paid until the federal budget has been passed.

Montana Defense Alliance chair David Weissman says the airmen of Malmstrom Air Force Base will continue to make sure the ICBM mission is safe and ready.

"The good news is our airman are of the highest caliber of professionalism and they understand the importance of what they do with protecting our nation and allies, and how important that is. I think that while they do not probably appreciate it, they will never let it affect them or what they do on a daily basis,” Weissman said.

Many federal agencies will be closed, however, including the Department of Education, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Internal Revenue Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Some essential functions will continue operating.

Congress will continue to operate as members negotiate a new budget bill. Lawmakers will continue to receive pay by law, but lower-level staffers will not.

The last government shutdown was in 2013 and lasted 17 days, during which 850,000 federal employees were furloughed and 1.3 million were required to work with unknown payment dates.

Over $2 billion was lost during the 2013 shutdown and an additional $24 billion worth of economic output was lost as well, according to CNN.

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