The federal government went into shutdown mode early Saturday morning, affecting residents waiting for tax refunds, signing up for Social Security or Medicare, or planning to visit a national park, museum or monument.
These are just some of the “nonessential services” suspended during the shutdown, the result of the U.S. Senate's failure to get the needed 60 votes for a bill to keep the government running on a short-term basis.
The Republican bill to continue the funding fizzled late Friday, with the Democrats overwhelmingly rejecting it because of its failure to include provisions to protect “Dreamers” -- immigrants who enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program and who would be subject to deportation if the program isn’t renewed.
U.S. Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, said in a statement that she was “frustrated and saddened” by what is happening and said her offices in Palo Alto and Washington, D.C., will remain open during the shutdown. Meanwhile, members of the Senate and the House of Representatives were scheduling meetings over the weekend in hopes of quickly re-opening the government.
According to Eshoo, the shutdown will also prevent people from applying for visas, freeze clean-up projects overseen by the federal government and prevent the Federal Housing Administration and the Small Business Administration from issuing loans. About 850,000 federal workers will be placed on furlough, according to Eshoo, roughly similar to the number during the last shutdown in 2013.
Services deemed “essential,” including armed forces and air-traffic control, will continue to be provided. Mail will continue to be delivered and Department of Veterans’ Affairs hospitals will remain open, though during the 2013 shutdown some veteran benefits were temporarily reduced. Unemployment programs may also be squeezed if the federal money that helps fund them dries up.
Meanwhile, the political blame game is certain to escalate throughout the weekend, with the Republicans blaming the Democrats for rejecting the short-term funding bill over DACA and the Democrats emphasizing the Republicans’ failures to fund the government despite controlling both chambers of the Congress and the White House.
In her statement, Eshoo blamed the majority party for failing to bring a budget to the floor for a vote (the Republicans have been relying on a series of short-term continuing resolutions).
“It is a source of embarrassment to run a great country this way," Eshoo said.