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Government shutdown affects county life

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Published on: Thursday, October 03, 2013

By Donna Broadway

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Tick, tock, tick, tock. It’s been three days and counting since the government partially shut down due to Congress’ failure to compromise on a spending bill with stipulations related to the Affordable Healthcare Act attached to it.

In Montgomery County, an estimated 70,000 federal workers and an unspecified number of federal contractors are facing furloughs.  

County Executive Ike Leggett estimates the county may lose up to $500,000 a day in personal income tax and revenue. Dori Henry of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene estimates that Maryland is projected to lose $5 million a day in state revenue, of which $4 million is associated with lost wages and $1 million in reduced sales tax revenue.  Henry also estimates that state businesses may lose $15 million in economic activity for each day the government is shut down.

 “We are at the mercy of Congress on this. We are encouraging them to resolve this but I don’t know what the outcome of that would be. I would hope that they would reimburse the employees but I can’t say how and when they will resolve this, to be honest,” Leggett said.

Leggett said he is in contact with the representatives from Montgomery County, Rep. John Sarbanes (D-3), Rep. John Delaney (D-6) and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-8).

Van Hollen said the shutdown will continue as long as Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) refuses to allow a vote.

“I don’t think anyone wins from this terrible situation. The country loses and federal employees become the victims of an unfair situation over which they have no control, and that is wrong and that is unfair. I just ask people to look at what the position of the speaker (Boehner) and Sen. Ted Cruz is,” Van Hollen said. “The speaker has not allowed the House of Representatives to have a vote on simply keeping the government open and people need to ask the question why the speaker will not allow democracy to work its will in the people’s House. People can reach their own conclusions but they need to ask themselves that question.”

There are 18 federal agencies and installations that call Montgomery County home. The largest are the Food and Drug Administration, which furloughed nearly 6,000 out of their 13,000 employees, and the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which will maintain weather related activities, law enforcement activities, maintenance of data records, fisheries management activities, and patent and trade marking activities.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis, Economic Development Administration, Economics and Statistics Administration, Minority Business Development Administration, and the Bureau of the Census, all related to activities at NOAA and the National Institute of Standards and Technology will not be functional during the shutdown.

Across the country, hundreds of federal parks and monuments are closed due to the shutdown, and Glen Echo Park and Chesapeake and Ohio Canal are not exempt. The park has been closed since Oct. 1, 2013, and will remain closed until the shutdown ends.

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