Government Shutdown Strikes Bay Area

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Government Shutdown Strikes Bay Area

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On Dec. 22, 2018, the federal government partially shut down leading to effects across America at national parks, airports, and federal organizations, such as the IRS (Internal Revenue Services).

The shutdown has lasted 32 days and has reached historic records for the longest government shutdown in American history.

President Donald Trump declared a government shutdown when the terms of the new budget did not include his requested amount for a wall along the southern border of the United States.

The effects of the shutdown can be seen all around the country, even in the Bay Area.

Livermore City Hall shared (through the finance department) that the Community Development Block Grants (CBDG) within the Livermore Housing Department are federally funded.

“Livermore is prepared to function without federal funds,” commented Mayor John Marchand.

Marchand also shared information regarding shutdown effects on the local city government.

Expecting the shutdown, the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) department has been funded for January and February although not specified by whom.

The HUD Department works with senior citizens for Section 8 vouchers for housing. These vouchers have also been funded through February.

Marchand explained that nonprofits funded through HUD have faced low staff and program cutbacks without promised funding.

Some nonprofits are funded by CBDG grants. But because the funds cannot be used, the city of Livermore has stepped in. The city expects to be reimbursed after the shutdown.

One of the largest employers of Livermore, the Lawrence Livermore Lab, receives federal funds.

Ann Stark, media relations for the lab, commented, “The Department of Energy already passed the budget for the year.”

With the budget set in place, the lab has not faced any issues or loss of pay for workers.

Congressman Eric Swalwell (D) has been directly hearing the impact on federal workers and constituents in the East Bay.

He recently wrote an op-ed for the “San Francisco Chronicle” detailing one such experience of the wife of a Coast Guard Member.

Swalwell mentioned air traffic controllers in Fremont at Oakland Center who direct the safety of flights ranging from the west coast to Asia. These workers have been working without pay.

He also stated impacts ranging from delayed tax returns at the IRS to clinical trial suspensions at the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). The latter was spotlighted by Anderson Cooper during “Anderson Cooper 360.”

The day of the interview, Swalwell had served dinners to federal workers. At this dinner, a woman relayed the message of her family’s struggle because of the shutdown. She also said that she did not want an America in to be a ‘country of walls’ in 30 years.

Swalwell stated, “Regardless of politics, there should never be a shutdown to drive negotiation and democracy should run its course.”

Swalwell consistently stated his concern for federal workers who are facing the worst impact. He related the loss of pay to a ‘hostage situation’ in which the President holds paychecks in order to get his demands.

He also discussed the environmental damages on Yosemite, Joshua Tree, and Golden Gate Park due to a loss of staff and cleaning.

The Yosemite press department was not available for comment. Their website mentions delays because of the shutdown.

According to Swalwell, the House of Representatives has been passing bills to keep government open and make sure workers can receive pay when the shutdown ends.

He believes the Senate needs to take responsibility and assert themselves as a coequal branch of government.

“The Democrats will not trade an open government for a wall,” declared Swalwell when questioned of the current negotiations.

Swalwell hopes to hear more federal workers’ stories to help share the effects of the shutdown with his colleagues.

As of now, the government is partially shutdown and federal employees wake up to another day of work not knowing when their wages will equal their efforts.