Atlanta (WAOK/AJC)– More than 77,000 executive branch civilian workers in Georgia are now furloughed now that the federal government partially shut down at midnight on Tuesday. Although the government will not halt altogether, this shutdown has many Georgians bracing for the massive disruption and ripple effects that it will cause. Services such as Social Security, Medicare reimbursements, and food stamps would continue to be active, as well as the United States Postal Service. Federal Courts will remain open as well, although it is not known for how long. Entities such as the Women, Infant, & Children (WIC) program will be affected as will National Parks across the United States, which will close. Locally, The King Visitor’s Center, The King Birth Home and Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, (all operated by the National Parks Service),and The Kennesaw National Battlefield will be closed, however, state parks and the privately owned King Center will be open.
Georgia’s state government will continue to function as normal, although experts say that a lengthy standoff could prove to be extremely disruptive. The state spends roughly $12 billion in federal money, between 31 and 32 percent of the state’s budget, with most going to Medicaid, school lunch and special education programs. Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which provides worldwide AIDS prevention and vaccinations for children, will continue to operate with a skeleton crew since three-fourths of their 13,000 employees have been furloughed. Funding for the CDC and its programs is mandatory, but according to the Department of Health and Human Services, in the event of a shutdown the CDC will have a “significantly reduced capacity to respond to outbreak investigations, processing of laboratory samples, and maintaining the agency’s 24/7 emergency operations center.”
Federal workers have been no stranger to furlough’s this year, as sequestration cuts have arrived, triggered by Congress’ failure to agree on a long-term budget. Because of this, the military presence in Georgia will also feel the shutdown’s effects and military-dependent parts of the state will be hit much harder by a shutdown than the City of Atlanta. Active-duty soldiers will remain on their posts, but their pay could be delayed if the shutdown drags on. The U.S. House chose to pass a bill to pay soldiers in the event of a shutdown, however it is unclear if the Senate will take it up.
President Obama and the White House have threatened a Presidential Veto if House Republicans do not compromise.
Written by – Sherman H. Smith Jr. (Intern/ WAOK)