Shutdown not widely felt locally … so far
A partial federal government shutdown that began Dec. 22 has not had a major effect on the Bayou Region thus far. But as the stalemate between President Donald Trump and congressional Democrats over his desire for a physical barrier on the U.S. southern border. The president has stated he will not sign a budget without inclusion of a requested $5 billion plus for construction of the barrier.
Senate Republicans, the majority in that house, were not considering as of Monday budget proposals floated by the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives.
A spot-check of locally-situated federal agencies has not resulted in indications of any local crisis, at least not for now.
A supervisor at one agency whose local operation is shut down, resulting in no paychecks for employees, acknowledged that for some on furlough tough times might loom ahead. Instructions have been given by superiors in Washington as to how issues with creditors might be handled until the problem is solved. The supervisor asked that the agency involved not be identified, along with the supervisor’s name.
Local Coast Guard employees declined to answer questions about their current situation, citing agency bans on unauthorized public discussion. Essential Coast Guard operations remain unaffected, they said, although they are without paychecks.
With no indication of how long the shutdown will last, or how much if any it might expand, this list provides what information was available Monday on how local residents might be affected, or not. Calls to the Coast Guard’s Aids to Navigation Team on Coast Guard Road in Dulac over several days resulted in no answers.
At the Houma-Terrebonne Regional Airport, director Joe Wheeler said there are no effects of the shutdown being felt by the agency. Concerns at other locations have been raised, however, concerning the stress air traffic controllers might be feeling as they work without pay.
US POSTAL SERVICE: All U.S. Postal Service operations continue as normal.
INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE: Don’t expect any answers to questions about your taxes for now. Taxpayer assistance lines are not operating. Only skeleton operations, including enforcement, are operational at this time.
SNAP (FOOD STAMPS): So far the program is not affected. But national media reports indicate that could change if the shutdown continues into February. Contingencies if that happens have not yet been announced.
NATIONAL PARKS SERVICE: The Jean Lafitte National Park Cultural Center in Thibodaux is shuttered for now, as are most other operations of the NPS nationwide.
WIC (Women, Infants and Children Special Supplemental Nutrition Program is receiving no further federal money but will continue operations so long as state and local governments are doing the spending.
IMMIGRATION COURTS: All immigration courts have closed, and hearings already scheduled will have to be rescheduled at a later time. Anyone involved with immigration court litigation should check with their attorney, however.
SOCIAL SECURITY: Social Security payments will not be affected, as they are covered by a separate funding scheme.
MEDICARE: Medicare is operational as well, for the same reason as Social Security.
VETERANS BENEFITS: There will be no interruption of Veterans benefits in the foreseeable future. The Department of Veterans Affairs is funded through September.