The shutdown is already hurting real people in 7 key states
President Donald Trump’s partial government shutdown, currently in its 18th day, is harming more than tens of thousands federal employees and their families — as well as the millions of Americans they serve throughout the country.
The Center for American Progress examined the impacts of the shutdown on the states of Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, and North Carolina. In those seven states alone, more than 45,000 federal employees are either furloughed or working without pay. And the work reduction is impeding their ability to serve Native Americans, small businesses, immigrants, and aviators, among others, according to the new analysis. (ThinkProgress is an editorially independent project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund.)
While Congress could end the shutdown by passing legislation and, if necessary, overriding Trump’s veto with two-thirds majorities in the House and Senate, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has refused to allow a vote on measures that would open the government. So far, only two Republican senators — Sens. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Susan Collins (R-ME) — have publicly supported reopening the government without meeting Trump’s demand for nearly $5.7 billion to build a wall along the southern border.
The Center for American Progress examined the impact of the shutdown in seven states represented by Gardner, Collins, and five other Republican senators who are up for reelection next year — including McConnell. The analysis found that every missed payday, starting this Friday, will cost federal workers across the country more than $2 billion. While Trump has claimed — without evidence — that the furloughed and temporarily unpaid federal employees are actually “the biggest fans” of the shutdown — and Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) has suggested these workers can afford to go without their wages — many workers are already facing economic hardship.
“From small businesses to new homeowners to farmers to federal workers, millions of people across the country are feeling the effects of Trump’s shutdown,” Sam Berger, a senior adviser at the Center for American Progress who helped oversee the 2013 shutdown for the Obama administration, told ThinkProgress. “But Trump cares more about his poll numbers and Fox News coverage than the lives of the people he’s hurting.”
Trade unions like the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) have condemned the president for treating federal government employees like political pawns. In an email to ThinkProgress, AFSCME President Lee Saunders said the shutdown “shows a shameless lack of respect for the service and dedication that hundreds of thousands of public service workers bring to their jobs and communities every day.”
The largest union of federal employees, the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), has called upon the Senate to reopen the federal government and put 800,000 Americans back to work with a paycheck.
“The women and men who keep our country running deserve to get their paycheck on payday,” the union said in a statement. “It’s unconscionable that starting this week, those who have worked tirelessly at our airports and federal prisons – among many other worksites and offices – will come home empty-handed. They deserve better and Congress and the administration must be better.”
Here are some highlights of the CAP research:
About 5,300 federal employees in Alaska are furloughed or working without pay — including 2,500 Interior Department employees, 1,100 Federal Aviation Administration and Transportation Security Administration employees at the state’s 27 commercial airports, and 900 Department of Agriculture employees.
The state’s 230 Native tribes — an estimated 110,000 indigenous Alaskans — are particularly imperiled by the partial shutdown. The USDA’s Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations, a program that provided 90,000 low-income individuals with nutrition benefits last year, is set to run out of funding by the end of January without additional appropriations. The shutdown also affects the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which funds critical services for indigenous Americans — including health care, housing, disaster relief, and infrastructure maintenance.
Sen. Lisa Murkowksi (AL-R) said in December that even a partial government shutdown is “no way to govern,” and is “disruptive, harmful, [and] wasteful.” But she has not publicly broken from McConnell and Trump’s strategy, and did not respond to a ThinkProgress request for comment Tuesday. Sen. Dan Sullivan (AL-R) said in December that the shutdown was “disappointing,” but has not publicly broken with McConnell and Trump. He did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
7,300 federal employees in Arizona, over half of whom work for the Interior Department, are either furloughed or working without pay during the shutdown. The Interior Department includes workers who support the state’s 24 national parks, monuments, and trails in addition to the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
The 300,000 indigenous Americans living in Arizona are uniquely harmed by the shutdown, thanks to its impact on the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the USDA’s Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations.
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (AZ-D) has said she does “not think there’s ever a time when it’s appropriate to shut down the government over any demand.” Sen. Martha McSally (AZ-R) has not publicly broken from Trump and McConnell, and did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
About 15,700 federal employees in Colorado are currently furloughed or working without pay due to Trump’s shutdown — 6,500 of whom work for the Interior Department, including the National Park Service, which supports the state’s 16 national parks, monuments, and trails. The shutdown is expected to cost Colorado’s outdoor economy nearly $2 million per day.
3,600 Department of Agriculture employees at offices like the Farm Service Agency in Denver are not working. The Denver location, along with its 60 local offices across the state, is part of a new assistance program under the Farm Bill. The shutdown poses a particular problem for the state’s production of hemp, which became legalized under the most recent Farm Bill. The shutdown could stymie the economic boom Coloradans were anticipating from hemp legalization.
Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) tweeted Monday that McConnell should immediately bring the House-passed funding bills to the floor to reopen the government.
Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) has publicly stated he would support reopening the government without securing money for a border wall, saying, “Congress needs to take further action on border security, but that work should be done when the government is fully open.” He also, however, has stated he supports a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Gardner’s office did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday.
2,600 federal employees in Iowa are furloughed or working without pay during the government shutdown. Most of them — approximately 1,800 people — are employed at various agencies funded by the Department of Agriculture.
They work for the Food Safety and Inspection Service, which prevents foodborne illnesses by ensuring that agricultural products like meat, eggs, and poultry products are properly labeled and safe to consume; the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, which works to defend America’s animal and plant resources from agricultural pests and diseases; and the Office of Rural Development, which provides loans, grants, and technical assistance to rural communities.
A partial federal government shutdown couldn’t come at a worse time for Iowa, as the state is still grappling with the effects of the president’s trade war, which could wind up costing the state’s economy nearly $2.2 billion thanks to retaliatory tariffs from countries like China. The USDA has delayed the release of a major corp forecast relied upon by farmers and traders to plan production. Now, farmers will have to decide whether to wait until the government re-opens or go off less dependable information when planning for crop production.
Sen. Jodi Ernst (R-IA) said in December that she does not support a government shutdown, but does believe that “we need to secure the border.” She did not respond to a ThinkProgress request for comment Tuesday. Similarly, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) believes we “shouldn’t have to chose between keeping the government open and protecting our national borders” but that he “supports President Trump’s request for $5 billion to fund border security.” His office also did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday.
More than 6,000 federal government employees in Kentucky are furloughed or working without pay. That includes more than 1,000 Department of Agriculture employees and 850 Bureau of Prison employees at the state’s two penitentiaries and federal correctional institutions. The Internal Revenue Service — including 3,300 employees in Kentucky — is no longer set up to process refunds (although that may soon change, as the Trump administration has ruled the IRS can issue refunds during the shutdown).
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has continued to do the bidding of President Donald Trump by refusing to take up any legislation that does not include $5 billion for a border wall. After the new Democratic-controlled House passed a spending bill last week without funding for the wall, McConnell refused to introduce the bill in the Senate, calling it “political theater” and vowing that the chamber “will not take up any proposal that does not have a real chance of passing this chamber and getting a presidential signature.”
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), meanwhile, has said he believes a compromise is possible, but maintains that Republicans should not cave on their demands for $5 billion. McConnell and Paul did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday.
About one thousand federal employees are furloughed or working without pay in Maine. The state’s organic agriculture industry could be hit hard by the closures of the Farm Service Agency in Bangor and 16 county offices. The NOAA’s Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office and two enforcement field offices, as well as the Fish & Wildlife Service’s Craig Brook and Green Lake National Fish Hatcheries, are also vital to the nation’s seafood supply. Maine’s hatcheries provide three-quarters of the Atlantic salmon in U.S. waters.
Sen. Angus King (I-ME) supported the bipartisan efforts to avert the shutdown, and said in December that the nation “shouldn’t be in this situation.” Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) is one of two Senate Republicans who has broken with Trump and her party publicly; as a spokesman noted on Meet the Press on Sunday, she has endorsed a compromise, saying, “It’s important that we remember that real lives are being affected here. The 800,000 federal employees, dedicated public servants, who won’t get a paycheck next Friday if this isn’t resolved very soon.”
About 7,000 federal employees in North Carolina are working without pay or are currently furloughed due to the shutdown. Considering that 1,900 of them are Department of Agriculture employees, the shutdown could have severe ramifications for the state’s 50,000 agricultural operations and facilitating programs under the just-passed Farm Bill. With major-crop forecasts, meat safety inspection, and rural community development loans imperiled, the ongoing recovery from last September’s Hurricane Florence will be that much harder.
Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) has posted no comments about the shutdown on his official website or social media, and did not respond to a ThinkProgress request for comment Tuesday. Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) wrote in an op-ed last week that he hopes to see a compromise that includes border security and protections for DACA beneficiaries, but has not publicly broken with McConnell and Trump. He did not respond to a ThinkProgress request for comment Tuesday.