With the federal government preparing for a shutdown that seems all but inevitable, the all Democrat New Mexico congressional delegation have issued statements on what the shutdown means for New Mexicans as well as their thoughts about the shutdown in general.
“We had a bipartisan budget deal this summer. Now MAGA Republicans are throwing that deal in the trash,” Sen. Martin Heinrich said in a statement. “They are playing political games with New Mexicans’ lives and it’s wholly unacceptable. “
A government shutdown could disrupt New Mexico’s economy, endanger nutritional assistance for postpartum women and children through the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, commonly called WIC, and put the US’s security at risk, Heinrich said.
“As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I worked in good faith to help pass all 12 of our bipartisan Appropriations bills,” Heinrich said. “House Republicans need to stop wasting time on extreme proposals designed to create chaos. If they don’t, a shutdown will be squarely on them.”
Sen. Ben Ray Luján said in a statement to NM Political Report that he was focused on preventing a Republican-led shutdown.
“A GOP shutdown would hurt our service members and first responders, delay critical services, and inflict pain on the economy. It must be avoided at all costs,” Luján said.
An attempt was made pass a temporary spending bill Sept. 29 to avert a shutdown, however it failed to pass the House of Representatives. All House Democrats and 21 Republicans voted against the stopgap that would have cut domestic programs by 30 percent.
If an agreement cannot be made by 12:01 a.m. on Oct. 1, the government will shut down.
A government shutdown would affect New Mexicans in the following ways:
- In New Mexico, 25,967 federal employees would effectively be temporarily laid off during a shutdown. While federal employees are guaranteed backpay during shutdowns, a prolonged shutdown could mean multiple missed paychecks and strained household budgets for these workers.
- 14,300 active-duty and 7,700 National Guard and reserve servicemembers in New Mexico are at risk of not getting paid.
- 480,545 New Mexicans who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) are at risk of losing nutrition assistance.
- 20,654 New Mexicans who receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits could be harmed if the federal portion of TANF funding is not renewed.
- 39,245 New Mexicans who received benefits from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) each month could see those benefits put in jeopardy.
- Los Alamos and Sandia National Labs will not have the funding to cover the costs of lab operations and labs will be forced to halt all planned purchases/procurements, hurting New Mexican businesses.
- NTIA will not engage in activities that further the deployment and use of broadband and other technologies in America.
- Eliminates Head Start slots for kids, which denies 10,000 children nationwide critical early childhood education and child care for families.
- Most essential federal funding and services for Tribes from the Bureau of Indian Affairs will halt as a result of the shutdown, resulting in decreased public safety, interruptions in Tribal government operations, Tribal social services and welfare programs, infrastructure projects, economic development, and general administration.
The previous information is from a press release from Sen. Ben Ray Luján’s office.
The Joint Economic Committee released a report showing the economic impact of a government shutdown.
The report stated that the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the 2018-2019 shutdown that lasted 34 days reduced economic output by $11 billion, $3 million that was never regained.
“A shutdown would be especially disruptive on the heels of the latest debt-limit crisis and the recent downgrade of U.S. treasuries by the credit agency Fitch. A Republican-led government shutdown would create more doubt about whether the United States can reliably manage its finances,” the report stated.
Private businesses, including farms, would feel the financial impact from a government shutdown as well due to delayed federal loans and federal data access could be lost.
This data includes employment, oil prices, trade flows and agricultural trends that can be used to make business decisions, the report stated.
As to the federal workforce, the three shutdowns in the last decade led to the equivalent of 56,940 years in lost productivity due to shutdown-caused furloughs, according to the bipartisan US Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations in the Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs staff report titled, “The True Cost of Government Shutdowns.”
The report was released in September 2019, about eight months after the last shutdown ended. It showed that, across 26 federal agencies, the last three government shutdowns cost taxpayers nearly $4 billion, at least $3.7 billion for back pay for furloughed workers and at least $338 million in other costs related to the shutdowns including lost revenue, late fees on interest payments and extra administrative work, the report stated.
Federal agency contingency plans
On Thursday, federal agencies began issuing information about what happens to their departments in the event of a government shutdown.
The Social Security Administration expects to furlough about 8,500 employees if the government shuts down, with more than 53,000 remaining on the job.
“We will continue activities critical to our direct-service operations and those needed to ensure accurate and timely payment of benefits,” the plan states. “We will cease activities not directly related to the accurate and timely payment of benefits or not critical to our direct-service operations.”
Current Social Security beneficiaries will continue to receive their expected benefits.
Other direct-service operations that will continue include continuing the application process for benefits including appointments and limited data exchanges and record corrections, appeals requests, non-receipts and critical payments issuance of original and replacement Social Security cards.
The military will continue its work without pay during the shutdown, a Congressional Research Service report stated.
“All military personnel performing active duty will continue in their normal duty status regardless of their affiliation with excepted or non-excepted activities. Military personnel will not be paid until such time as Congress appropriates funds available to compensate them for this period of service,” Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks said in a memo to Pentagon leadership in September 2021.
The Department of Homeland Security expects almost one-third of its workers, about 185,000 people, to be required to work without pay for the shutdown’s duration.
A fact sheet issued by DHS stated that the people working without pay include law enforcement officers, analysts, investigators and disaster response officials. These include more than 19,000 border patrol agents and hardship for active military personnel.
One of the more visible federal departments is the National Park Service.
In past shutdowns, National Park sites such as White Sands National Park, Bandelier National Monument and Carlsbad Caverns National Park were closed or were available only if the units were not gated.
The Congressional Research Service estimates that the 16-day 2013 government shutdown, in which all NPS facilities were closed, resulted in a loss of $414 million in visitor spending in park communities across the country.
There is no information on the 2018-2019 shutdown, according to the Congressional Research Service.
“(The 2013 shutdown) resulted in an overall loss of 7.88 million visits to the parks and a loss of $414 million in NPS visitor spending in gateway communities across the country. Similar figures are not available for the 34-day 2018-2019 shutdown.
NPS sites will be closed; however, sites that are physically accessible to the public like park roads, trails, campgrounds and memorials will remain accessible to the public. Restrooms, trash collection and emergency operations will vary and are not guaranteed, an NPS fact sheet on the potential closure stated.
“As a general rule, if a facility or area is locked, secured or otherwise inaccessible during non-business hours (buildings, gated parking lots, bathrooms, etc.), or is closed regularly for safety or resource protection, it will be locked or secured for the duration of the lapse in appropriations,” the fact sheet stated.