How Would a Government Shutdown Affect San Diego County?

The federal government will close down at midnight Monday unless Congress votes to continue funding. Essential services will continue, but federal employees and civilian contractors may not be paid.

The U.S. Capitol at sunrise. Credit: AFP/Getty Images.
The U.S. Capitol at sunrise. Credit: AFP/Getty Images.
As Congress debates funding the federal government, and a Monday deadline looms, Patch asked San Diego County Congressional leaders how a shutdown might affect residents.

"Middle class families are waiting for the House majority to get its act together and realize that the path to ending this economic uncertainly means working with the Democrats to avoid a government shutdown. This scenario ends with bipartisanship, not ideological rigidity," Rep. Susan Davis said Friday.

Davis, a Democrat who has served in Congress since 2001, spoke after the Senate voted to fund the government through Nov. 15 and focus turned to the House. Davis represents La Mesa, Lemon Grove and large parts of San Diego and Chula Vista.

Congressional staffers told Patch that essential services would continue after a shutdown, including the military, the Border Patrol and the air traffic system. But it's not clear whether personnel would be paid in the event of a shutdown. 

Civilian employees of the military may be furloughed.  A recent study by the San Diego Military Advisory Council indicated there are approximately 25,000 civilian employees of the Defense Department in San Diego County.

Social Security checks will go out as scheduled and treatment under Medicare will continue, but applications for new benefits could be delayed, according to national press reports.

National Parks and the Smithsonian museums in Washington will close. Many government agencies such as the Small Business Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency would effectively shut down

Federal courts can continue to operate for about two weeks. The U.S. Postal Service will not be affected.

The White House has an online list of contingency plans, most last updated in December 2011 as another government shutdown loomed.

The House last week sent the Senate a budget resolution that would fund the government for three months, but eliminate money for the Affordable Care Act, or "Obamacare." The Senate on Friday voted to keep the government open through Nov. 15 and to restore funding for Obamacare, but the House must now act.

Republican Reps. Darrell Issa, who represents coastal North County, and Duncan Hunter, whose district includes Santee and Ramona, both voted to defund Obamacare in the resolution sent to the Senate. Many in the Republican Party are using the threat of a shutdown to try to win concessions from the Democrats on Obamacare.

Issa said in a statement Thursday that "Obamacare is  expensive, confusing, and raising health insurance costs for ordinary Americans."

The government shut down twice as Democrats and Republicans sparred over the budget during the administration of President Bill Clinton. Much of the federal government was closed for five days in November 1995 and then from mid-December 1995 to early January 1996.

Last week Rep. Scott Peters criticized what he termed "Tea Party driven gridlock" that might imperil the economic recovery.

"Instead of continuing to play political games with the American people’s future, it’s time that Congress got back to work on a long-term budget solution that finds targeted, mission-driven cuts and leads toward a path of debt reduction,” said the Democrat who represents Coronado, La Jolla, Carmel Valley, Rancho Bernardo and Poway, among other communities in San Diego.


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