by Mindy Aguon
Guam - The Senate has rejected a House bill that would have funded the government, but delayed the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, which takes effect today. President Barack Obama delivered a message to members of the military in the wake of the event, assuring those in uniform that they will remain on normal duty status and those involved in military operations will continue to receive what they need to carry out their missions and will be paid on time.
For civilian workers, who have already suffered furloughs from sequestration, the president had this message: "You and your families deserve better than the dysfunction we're seeing in Congress. Your talents and dedication help keep our military the best in the world. That's why I'll keep working to get congress to reopen our government and get you back to work as soon as possible."
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who is currently in South Korea, meanwhile addressed DOD personnel prior to the government shutdown. Hagel said the shutdown affects different parts of the department in different ways with temporary furloughs of a large number of civilian employees and contractors. Furlough decisions are dictated solely by the law which only allows civilians to work - if - they are required to continue supporting military operations or if they are required to protect DOD personnel and property.
Governor Eddie Calvo meanwhile says a majority of federally funded programs will not be impacted by the shutdown as many agencies have carry over funding or have already obligated funds for this fiscal year that can be utilized during a temporary shutdown. The governor says his administration is assessing the impact the shutdown will have on the National Guard, Public Health and the Behavioral Wellness Center. Calvo added, "It is a true shame that Congress and the Obama Administration value politics over governance. Any day when elected leaders bicker to the point of shutting down the government is a sad day in American history indeed."
The governor added that he hopes that the issue can be resolved before Americans and Guamanians are left without the help the federal government is supposed to provide.
Guam Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo says she regrets that partisan politics have led to this "unnecessary shutdown". She noted, "Today, House Republicans chose to shut down the federal government by refusing to offer a Continuing Resolution capable of passing both the House and the Senate and being signed by the President. President Obama and my Democratic colleagues have agreed to Republican funding levels included in the CR being offered, yet House Republicans remain unwilling to compromise; instead, they are using what should be a simple, common-sense vote on a spending bill to fund all operations of the federal government as a last-ditch effort to attach unrelated issues. I am concerned about federal employees and contractors who may be furloughed and who will not be able to receive the same retroactive pay that was offered to those were furloughed during the government shutdown in 1996. I share the frustration of millions of Americans across our country, including many of you from Guam whom I have heard from over the weekend and over the past few weeks."
The Congresswoman's Office provided a brief overview of the shutdown's impact on federal services:
- Nearly 1.4 million active duty military personnel deployed at home and overseas defending our nation's interests would not be paid for their work until after the shutdown ends.
- Worsens the already unacceptable VA disabilities claims backlog, and stops any investments in IT to fix this problem.
- Hundreds of thousands of federal employees would be immediately and indefinitely furloughed, and many federal employees and contractors that continue to work would not be paid during the shutdown.
- Housing loans to low and middle income families in rural communities would be put on hold, as would start-up business loans for farmers and ranchers.
- SBA would stop approving applications for small businesses to obtain loans and loan guarantees. In a typical month, SBA approves more than $1 billion in loan assistance to small businesses.
- Stops food assistance, hurting millions of Americans: 13 million children lose access to school breakfast and 31 million children lose access to school lunch; 8.7 million women do not receive food assistance via the WIC program; and 47.5 million who rely on SNAP to put food on the table lose their benefits.
- All facilities and services in our national parks would be closed, as would the Smithsonian, impacting the hundreds of thousands of people that visit these sites daily. This would have severely negative impacts on the surrounding local communities that rely on the revenue generated by travel and tourism to these destinations.
- Important government research into life-threatening diseases, environmental protection, and other areas would be halted.
- Visas and passports cannot be processed.
- The government would stop issuing permits to conduct drilling operations on federal lands, and would stop or delay environmental reviews of planned transportation and energy-related projects, keeping companies from working on these projects.