How could a government shutdown impact Connecticut?

A government shutdown could have far-reaching effects in Connecticut – but not right away.

John Craven, Associated Press and CNN

Sep 28, 2023, 9:30 PM

Updated 289 days ago


A federal government shutdown this weekend appears more likely, as talks in Washington grind to a halt.
“Well, there are no negotiations right now,” Rep. Jim Himes (D-Greenwich) said on Thursday.
But what would a shutdown mean here in Connecticut? It could have far-reaching effects – but not right away.
The first impact would be at a quiet farmstead in Wilton, where the leaves outnumber people most days. Weir Farm is the state’s only National Park Service site and could be forced to close as early as Monday.
Weir Farm National Historical Park
Crystal Lowery brought her kids from Charleston, South Carolina to tour historical sites across the Northeast.
“It is sad to think that they could close, and you might not have access to these locations,” she said. “The budget needs to be addressed. But at the same time, you know, it is sad.”
Other impacts may take a while to see.
Across Connecticut, approximately 8,400 federal employees could be furloughed or forced to work without a paycheck, covering agencies from the FBI to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Up to 6,000 active-duty military and 5,000 National Guard members are also affected.
At Bradley and Tweed New Haven airports, 271 Transportation Security Administration agents and 39 air traffic controllers will stay on the job – also with no salary – according to the White House. That led to travel delays during the last shutdown in 2019, when critical airport employees refused to work.
Southeastern Connecticut would get hit especially hard, between the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and the Naval Sub Base. An extended shutdown could also impact Sikorsky's 8,000 workers in Stratford, plus more than 200 suppliers across the state.
"In 2019, when the Coast Guard was shut down along with the Department of Homeland Security in New London, we had pop-up food banks to help Coast Guard families put food on the table for themselves and their family members," said Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Norwich).
In Washington, negotiations are stalled – even over a temporary funding extension to keep the government running.
“I think everybody loses,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). “I think the Republicans lose, I think the Democrats lose, I think the administration loses, I think the country loses.”
But a small faction of hardline conservatives say a shutdown is worth it to get deeper spending cuts, including cuts to the Ukraine war effort and tougher border security. One of the holdouts is Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Florida).
"I ran to fight Washington. I'm against this place,” he said. “I don't like the way we've been doing things.”
Himes said the tactic won't work.
“You have people like Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene – you know, the children who haven't grabbed the stove yet,” he said. “And they're going to grab that stove, and the government will be reopened and five years from now, we'll be having this conversation all over again.”
The processing of passports and visas will continue in a shutdown “as the situation permits,” according to guidance that the State Department gave employees last week. The department said consulates in the U.S. and abroad will say open “as long as there are sufficient fees to support operations,” but passport work could stop if the building where the work is done gets shuttered.
The time it takes to get a passport or visa already is much longer than before the pandemic. Most Customs and Border Protection agents are also considered essential and would be expected to work at airports and border crossings.
A government shutdown could risk millions of low-income Americans’ access to food and nutrition assistance programs — with impacts depending on how long the shutdown lasts and program-by-program contingency funds.
Nearly 7 million women and children who rely on the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) could be at risk of losing assistance almost immediately into a shutdown, according to the Biden administration. That’s because the federal contingency fund supporting normal WIC operations will likely run out in a matter of days — pushing states to rely on their own money or carryover funds.
Impacted families are “going to be going to food pantries,” said Dr. Nancy Nielsen, senior associate dean for health policy at the University at Buffalo’s Jacobs School of Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. “These are people who need the help. These are moms. These are infants. So this is a real problem.”
Families who receive benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program could also lose assistance if a shutdown drags out for a more significant period of time. According to the Agriculture Department, regardless of what happens in Washington this weekend, households will receive SNAP assistance as usual through October.
Head Start programs serving more than 10,000 disadvantaged children would immediately lose federal funding, although they might be able to stave off immediate closure if the shutdown doesn’t last long.
Those 10 programs, which are located in Connecticut, as well as Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts and South Carolina, serve just a fraction of the 820,000 children enrolled in the program at any given time.

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