Area impact of govt. shutdown
Published 2:33 pm Thursday, January 17, 2019
While the exact number of employees impacted by the government shutdown in Buckingham, Cumberland and Prince Edward counties is not known, a visible and far-reaching effect could be felt due to loss of federal funding for the SNAP program.
The partial shutdown, which began on Dec. 22, 2018, is the longest recorded government shutdown in U.S. history.
According to reports from National Public Radio (NPR), nine federal departments are among those affected by lack of funding, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, U.S. Department of Interior, U.S. Department of State, U.S. Department of Transportation and U.S. Department of Treasury.
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Approximately 800,000 federal workers are estimated to have been furloughed or are being required to work without pay, NPR reports.
National Parks are also being affected by the government shutdown, including the Appomattox Court House National Historical Park.
A source close to a national park employee The Herald contacted declined to comment on the government shutdown.
Daniel Jordan with High Bridge Trail State Park said the park is operated by the state. Because of this, there has not been any direct effects the park has faced due to the government shutdown.
The Herald reached out to the Immigration Centers of America (ICA) facility in the Town of Farmville, 508 Waterworks Road. The ICA is a privately-operated organization that provides detention services for the office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
A representative said they could not speak directly with the media in reference to the facility, and recommended contacting the ICE Office of Public Affairs.
When The Herald contacted the office’s media line via email on Friday, Jan. 11, it received responses from several media relations representatives with the following message:
“All of ICE’s public affairs officers are out of the office for the duration of the duration of the government shutdown,” the messages cited. “We are unable to respond to media queries during this period because we are prohibited by law from working. If you still require a response, please re-submit your query upon the government re-opening.”
Most active duty military members are being compensated during the shutdown. This does not include members of the United States Coast Guard, which is under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
President Donald Trump, on Wednesday, signed legislation to provide federal employees with back pay, or compensation upon government reopening.
An area source who asked not to be identified in reference to the government shutdown said banks such as Navy Federal and USAA are providing options for service members impacted by the shutdown.
“Reach out to your state representatives and ask them to stay in D.C. with the president to work on a budget rather than leaving home,” the individual cited in the statement. “National security should be the most important aspect of our country, and our country’s representatives need to stop being children and agree on a bipartisan agreement to secure this country.”
Area Department of Social Services organizations are noting that the government shutdown has the potential to impact Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients if the shutdown continues.
Roma Morris, director of the Prince Edward County Department of Social Services, said Wednesday that SNAP recipients in Prince Edward are set to receive benefits on Thursday that includes benefits for both January and February. This means that those who receive SNAP will have the resources to use SNAP for both of those months. However, it’s uncertain how recipients will receive SNAP resources after February if the government shutdown is not resolved.
Morris said Prince Edward County has an estimated 4,166 people who receive SNAP.
Buckingham County Department of Social Services Director Stephanie Coleman made a similar comment during the county’s Board of Supervisors meeting Monday.
Coleman said that social services workers in Buckingham have been taking action to make sure that recipients receive SNAP benefits for February.