I have been getting messages on social media from people concerned about the impact the partial government shut down will have on them as we enter day 17 without an end in sight. People are hearing and reading different things and afraid. Much of the time what people are hearing is being put out there by those with an agenda. So how is the partial government shutdown impacting those of us in New Jersey?
On December 22, 2018 we provided an overview of the government functions that would be impacted by the shutdown. The most obvious impact is on those who work for federal agencies that are not funded during the shutdown. There are 5,487 New Jerseyans who work for a federal government agency not currently funded. Those people are either working not knowing when they will get paid or they are furloughed. The federal Office of Personnel Management has provided an information and resources page for those on furlough.
The agency I get the most questions about is the IRS. People want to know when they will receive their tax refunds. During the shutdown the IRS will continue to process returns and accept tax payments but will not process refunds. There is also no customer service available to answer taxpayer questions. This as many Americans struggle to understand the new tax laws. You can ask for an extension to file your return but if you owe taxes you must pay by April 15, 2019. If you are owed a refund you will not receive it during the shutdown.
Those who received federally funded school lunches, WIC and SNAP benefits will continue to do so through the end of January. Congress has appropriated $3 billion in emergency funding but that will run out sometime in February.
Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are all slated to keep up their operations uninterrupted during the shutdown. All three programs fall under mandatory spending that the federal government has committed to and are not affected by the annual appropriations process.
The Department of Veterans Affairs has already secured its funding, so veterans hospitals will maintain their routine operations. Veteran disability pay and GI Bill benefits are funded by their own legislation separate from the annual appropriations bills so those would stay consistent.
During the shutdown FEMA not issue or renew federal flood insurance. This is impacting 40,000 home purchases across the U.S. Homeowners are advised to contact private insurance companies to inquire about purchasing flood insurance.
New Jerseyans can still visit some national parks but will most likely find restrooms and visitors centers closed. During the shutdown the National Park Service website is not being updated and most parks will not have representatives available to answer questions regarding what is open and what is closed.
Airline travel is not being impacted. Air Traffic Controllers and TSA Agents are deemed essential and will keep working during a partial shutdown. There have been news stories about TSA Agents calling in sick in larger numbers during the shutdown but the TSA says this has not impacted waiting times. There are 51,739 TSA Agents who are required to work without pay during the shutdown.
Post offices and mail delivery are continuing. The United States Postal Service is funded by independent sources of revenue including the sales of products and services so it’s not impacted by the shutdown.
At the time the shutdown occurred the Federal Courts said they could maintain operations for about 3 weeks using money it’s received from various court related fees. As the shutdown continues criminal cases that impact public safety are likely to continue to be adjudicated while civil cases are likely to be delayed.
The Small Business Administration will not be approving loans during the shutdown impacting thousands of small businesses. In 2017 the SBA guaranteed more than $30 billion in loans to small businesses.
People are asking when will the shutdown end? There appears to be no clear answer in sight. Republicans and Democrats continue to be far apart on talks to end the shutdown as President Trump remains firm on his instance of a border wall and Democrats refuse to negotiate. The President has said repeatedly that he doesn’t want to ban immigration into the U.S. but wants to make sure immigrants come legally. Trump has even said he’d negotiate a path to citizenship for those who are already here. Democrats are unwilling to be flexible in an apparent attempt to deny the President a win on a key issue he he campaigned on. Congressional Democrats and even President Obama supported border security (including a wall) until President Trump did.
In 2009 Chuck Schuymer talked about illegal immigration and a border wall. He apparently agreed with President Trump until partisan politics got in the way.
The Informed Conservative Blog talked about border security being one of the most important issues facing our nation in early December.
It’s time for Congressional Democrats to stop pandering to the far left wing of the Democratic party, put the safety and security of the American people first and work with President Trump on a solution that will secure our borders and reopen the government.
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