[KHTS] – Ahead of the first day of California’s implementation of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, a lack of funding shut down the federal government for the first time in 17 years Tuesday.
“This is worse than anything I’ve seen in my 21 years here,” said Congressman Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, regarding the shutdown. “Here you have the president negotiating with (Russian President Vladimir Putin and reaching out to the leader of Iran and at the same time, he’s saying we will not negotiate with Congress.”
Flights and national parks part of myriad federally regulated services affected Tuesday, as the House of Representatives continued to work on resolutions that would keep members of the armed services paid and the nation’s Capitol operating, which has many services running with congressional approval.
Sylvia Burwell, director of the Office of Management and Budget, sent the email that initiated the process with an email that stated: “Agencies should now execute plans for an orderly shutdown due to the absence of appropriations.”
McKeon also seemed unsure of whether a resolution was possible, amid a mostly partisan fight stemming from concerns over how the sweeping reforms also known as Obamacare will be enacted.
“I don’t think that anyone thought the president was going to eliminated Obamacare or defund Obamacare, but I thought the one-year delay was very reasonable,” McKeon said. “The IRS was not ready to control it, they’re not ready to enforce it.”
And the turmoil, which could affect everything from Army-Navy football game scheduled for Saturday to the fountains at the National Mall, could just be a precursor to an even longer, more protracted battle, McKeon said.
“We’ve also got the fight on the debt ceiling increase,” McKeon said, looking ahead to the Oct. 17 deadline on our debt ceiling. “That’s where I thought we were going to have our big budget battle, and I guess we still will.
“That’s where we hopefully are able to get the sequestration problem solved and are able to bring some surety to the defense chiefs, so they will know how much money they have to spend,” McKeon said.
Both parties in Congress are being held accountable as members’ approval rating hit an all-time low in August, about 14 percent, according to a Gallup poll.
The cost to the California tourism industry alone is expected to be in the range of hundreds of millions of dollars each day, according to Caroline Beteta, president and CEO of Visit California.
“The current federal government shutdown has come with immediate impacts on our national parks, public lands and overall tourism economy. Visitors to and travelers throughout California spend $292 million each day, $12.1 million every hour, or $202,000 every minute,” Beteta said. “Our national parks, public lands and surrounding gateway areas are major contributors to these figures and the effects of this shutdown will be felt immediately in these communities.”
McKeon also released, via email, a frequently asked questions document about the shutdown.
Will my Social Security checks be issued?
•Social Security payments should continue to current beneficiaries. New applicants and those who have recently submitted a change of address/direct deposit slip, or other changes may be affected.
Will I still receive Medicare and Medicaid benefits?
•According to the Congressional Research Service (CRS), current Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries and providers should not be affected by a government shutdown. Medicare has 30 days to pay providers and payments. For new enrollees, they will likely not be processed or able to enroll in Medicare. Since Medicaid is a state-run program, and the funds are paid in advance to the states by the federal government, new enrollment would likely continue. CRS did detail that the agencies have considerable discretion when it comes to how it will continue to run.
Will my medical services provided through the VA be affected?
•No. The VA’s medical services, medical facilities, and medical support & compliance accounts will not have a disruption in their services. However, other services including VA call centers and hotlines, decisions on claims appeals or motions by the Board of Veterans Appeals, recruiting and hiring of veteran job applicants, VA Secretary correspondences with veterans and VSOs, and outreach and public awareness activities will be impacted.
Will my passport or visa application be affected?
•Yes. The processing of passports and visa applications will stop until the federal government reopens.
Will the postal service still deliver mail?
•Mail services will still continue as normal.
Will military personnel be paid?
•Yes. Congress approved and President Obama signed into law an order that ensures active duty military and select “essential” civilian personnel are paid on-time despite the shutdown. The 1998 guidance on a shutdown directs that “All military personnel shall continue to report for duty.” Not all units will continue to operate, however, and military personnel may be assigned to other than their regular duties.
Will security operations at airports, nuclear facilities, U.S. borders and military installations continue?
•Yes, essential security and monitoring personnel will continue to perform their duties, including law enforcement/security personnel, air traffic controllers etc. Additionally, personnel at the National Weather Service who perform essential services dealing with public safety such as warning forecasts for severe weather, fire weather services, ongoing flood monitoring etc., will be maintained.
Will the public have access to federal buildings/properties?
•Generally-speaking, all federal properties will be closed to the public and non-essential personal. Essential maintenance and security services will continue. This will mean closures of courthouses (yet courts and other essential offices will be open only for emergencies) and other government properties to the public.
Will National Parks in California be open?
* No. During a government shutdown park areas will be closed.
Our family is planning on visiting Washington, D.C. next week. Will your office be able to help us with tours? Will Smithsonian museums be open?
•No. Unfortunately, the Capitol Visitor Center, all federal museums and federal buildings will be closed. Once the federal government shutdown ends, my office will again be able to assist with scheduling tours.
Will government websites have current information despite the federal shutdown?
•No. As federal departments and agencies will be shutdown, information available on their respective websites will not be the most current available. Individuals needing information are encouraged to call 1-800-FED-INFO where information specialists are available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ESTto answer questions. This call center will be open despite the shutdown. Also, my DC and District office will remain open for calls.
How long will the government shutdown last?
•Until there is a budget solution passed by Congress and signed by the President. For perspective, the last federal government shutdowns were in 1995 & 1996 during the Clinton Administration. At that time, there were two separate shutdowns: 5 days (from November 14 through November 19, 1995) and 21 days (from December 16, 1995, to January 6, 1996).