The effect of a federal government shutdown is reverberating at the local level – including in Clatsop County.

Lewis and Clark National Historical Park closed today following the announcement of the shutdown. Scott Tucker, park superintendent, said the park will remain closed until the budget impasse is resolved by Congress.

The closure puts 19 full- and part-time employees on furlough, including Tucker. All trails on the park grounds will be closed as well as the visitor center and parking lots.

“It’s out of our control,” Tucker said about whether the park reopens.

The inability of Congress to settle its differences angered Oregon lawmakers.

U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, who represents the North Coast, was upset and said the impasse was caused because of the continuing Republican “obsession” to derail the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

“I am deeply disappointed,” she said. “It is a reckless path that will hurt our economy and cast a shadow of instability and uncertainty over the country.

Impacts are varied. The Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services office of the Department of Agriculture reported that no additional federal funds would be available to support the Special Supplemental Nutrition program for Women, Infants and Children’s (WIC’s) clinical services, food benefits and administrative costs. They will continue operations into October, but the longterm future is unclear.

States may have some funds available to continue operations for a week or so, but states will likely be unable to sustain operations for a longer period. Contingency funds are available, but officials say they will not fully mitigate the shortfall in October.

Post offices around the North Coast will continue to operate normal hours.

More than 1,000 administrative and nonessential Oregon National Guard employees were sent home on furlough, but security, emergency and aerospace safety operations will not be affected.

Col. Dean Perez, post commander of Camp Rilea, said that the base is still open and operational.

“Everything is up and running,” Perez said. “If any emergencies or issues come up, our staff are prepared to handle it.”

Federal technicians, who perform administrative support and provide maintenance services on equipment and supplies, are furloughed from the military installation, but active guard reserve employees remain.

“The guards are still working and we’re still open,” Perez said.

The U.S. Coast Guard, a branch of the military under the Department of Homeland Security, is expected to complete an orderly cessation of all other activities not exempt from the shutdown within four business hours following a federal shutdown.

“All military personnel reported for duty and will continue to report for duty,” said Lt. Paul Rhynard, a spokesman for the Coast Guard. He said that no frontline operations would be affected.

As of July 31, the agency estimated 49,698 onboard employees, according to a report it submitted to the White House’s Office of Management and Budget. Of those, nearly 6,000 are affected by the shutdown.

Military members are exempt from furlough. Civilian employees are exempt because they are either funded by other than annual appropriations or are considered necessary for the protection of life and property.

Most research activities of agencies like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, under the Department of Commerce, will be suspended.

Bonamici, the North Coast’s Congresswoman, blasted Republican actions.

“This obsession with defunding the ACA has taken time that should have been spent on important legislative priorities like immigration reform and job creation,” she said. “Congress has a number of pressing responsibilities that require our attention, including growing the economy, strengthening education and maintaining the full faith and credit of the U.S. government.

“This shutdown puts these issues on the back burner and risks undermining the economic stability of the country. 

 “It is fundamentally undemocratic for a handful of obstructionists to harm the country’s social and economic well-being because a vote didn’t go their way.”

She said with a government shutdown, essential services that protect health and safety will be maintained, including veterans’ services and payment for Social Security and Medicare benefits. But up to 1 million federal workers will be furloughed and a number of government services will be delayed or stopped altogether, including federal food assistance, some medical research programs and national parks, monuments and museums.

Oregon U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley was similarly upset. 

“This entire manufactured crisis hurts American families, slowing business investments that would otherwise put Americans to work,” he said. “Throw in the plan by some to create another crisis in a few weeks over the debt ceiling, and the damage is substantial.”

The Oregon Democrat said the action of GOP members was an attempt to reverse election victories at the expense of the economy.

“This hostage-taking is wrong-headed in the extreme and must be rejected by those on the right and left seeking common sense restoration of an ordinary budget process,” he said.


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