Government shutdown’s impact on GA


The United States Capitol Building. Home of Congress

As of Jan. 24, the US government has been partially shut down for 34 days, the longest shutdown in history. On December 22, all “non-essential” government workers were sent home and are not being paid. Last week, Congress approved a bill allowing government workers to get back pay when the government is reopened, but it doesn’t look like that will happen soon.

Workers will miss another paycheck on Friday. About 420,000 essential workers – Homeland Security, TSA, FBI, parts of the Justice Department, food inspectors, Forest Service firefighters, National Weather Service forecasters, and various federal enforcement officials – are working without pay.

Another 380,000 employees are furloughed or are forced to take unpaid time off.

This is nowhere near the first shut down; however, this is the longest in history. This shutdown occurred because Congress and President Trump could not agree on an appropriations bill to fund the Federal Government in 2019. The agreement is blocked over Trump’s $5.6 billion demand to fund a US-Mexico border wall.

About 16,000 federal workers in Georgia are affected.

Security at the Super Bowl is a major concern. Thousands of people will be flying in through Hartsfield-Jackson to see the Los Angeles Rams face the New England Patriots on Feb. 3. This event is classified as a SEAR 1 event, the federal government’s second-highest security classification. Many federal agencies who are working with local law enforcement such as TSA, ICE, the FBI, and the Secret Service are not being paid during the shutdown.

In an article in USA TODAY Sports, Security consultant Aloke S. Chakravarty said that federal law enforcement officials who haven’t gotten paid as the shutdown drags on “are professionals who don’t do their jobs for money, but their families are impacted like anyone else’s would be.” Rowson and Atlanta Police Department spokesman Carlos Campos said the shutdown will not impact security. Federal, state and local officials have been planning for the Super Bowl for two years and say they are fully prepared.

TSA, the organization that provides airport security, is one of the agencies that still have to work, but with no pay. At Hartsfield-Jackson, over the past week or so, an average of about 10 percent of airport screeners have called out sick, about three times the normal average. However, the airport is working to shorten wait times.

In a statement made by the Presidents of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, Air Line Pilots Association, and Association of Flight Attendants, “We have a growing concern for the stafety and security of our members, our airlines, and the traveling public due to the government shutdown,” the presidents said in their statement, and  added, “In our risk-averse industry, we cannot even calculate the level of risk currently at play, nor predict the point at which the entire system will break. It is unprecedented.”

Around 50,000 of the 800,000 federal workers are airport security and are working without pay.

Other federal facilities affected include national parks and the state’s federal prison.

Some Atlanta citizens were distraught over the temporary closing of the Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Martin Luther King Jr. and his father preached. These people believe that what the government might find insignificant, normal people find important. The same has happened at Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park. However, people are still allowed to walk the park, but the park rangers are furloughed.

Edgefield federal prison is located about 26 miles from Augusta, GA. It is mandatory that prison guards are on duty 24/7; however, these guards are not being paid for their service. As a result, inmates have begun to bribe officers to bring them outside items. Their community is helping out, but these officers cannot take more than $20 as anything more is considered a bribe.

The Atlanta Community Food Bank has begun giving aid to federal employees affected by the shutdown. The food bank’s website states, “Each county tab has a list of large public food pantries where you can go to get the assistance you need to ensure you can keep food on the table and continue to meet the nutritional needs for yourself and your family.” They will also have pop-up pantries which will allow anyone in need to come regardless of what county they live in.

This shutdown has touched everyone. Democratic House members debating with the President and the Senate to find a deal that will appease all. Both sides have made their intentions clear, but none have conceded. It is hard to predict what will come of the shutdown, and even harder to predict when it will end. What we know is that no one wants it to continue.