Federal government shut down will be felt in Black Belt

Published 12:38 am Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Locked doors will greet visitors to some federal buildings and museums in Selma until the U.S. Congress passes a spending bill.

The federal shut down begins today and will continue until a bill is passed.

“A shut down will have a real economic impact,” President Barack Obama said in a news conference Monday. “The idea of putting the American people’s hard-earned progress at risk is the height of irresponsibility.”

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The U.S. House of Representatives passed a spending bill this weekend that would keep government open if spending levels are maintained, but funding for the Affordable Care Act is not provided.

In order for a spending bill to become official, the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate must pass the same version of the bill before it is passed onto the president. The president must then sign the bill for it to go into effect.

City of Selma facilities will be open as usual in spite of the shut down and Selma, though the police department receives federal funding, Chief of Police Riley said Selma residents shouldn’t expect any difference in police coverage either.

“There is a lot of federal funding that helps us during the year, but we will function as normal,” Riley said. “We will continue to keep the city safe.”

Agencies funded by Dallas County will also stay open, but those funded by the federal government, such as the National Parks Service, which runs the Selma Interpretive Center, will be closed.

“The workers will be sent home, but they wouldn’t lose their jobs,” National Park Service public information officer Patricia Butts said Monday. “We will reopen as soon as we are able to.”

Other federal agencies that will be affected include the military, U.S. Department of Labor’s occupational safety and health inspectors and the Food and Drug Administration.

In a release from U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, she claims over 17,000 children in Alabama will be affected by immediate cuts to the Head Start Program.

The military’s active duty personnel will remain on duty, but paychecks might be delayed, Obama said Monday. Inspectors with the Occupational, Safety and Health Administration will stop workplace inspections, except in cases of imminent danger and the Food and Drug Administration will take similar measures, handling high-risk recalls and suspending routine safety inspections.

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, known as WIC, might also be affected by the government shut down. The Department of Health and Human Services was not available for comment.

The shut down will not have any affect on some federal agencies.

The Dallas County Veterans Service Office will not be affected. The U.S. Postal Service will continue delivering mail as usual and Social Security and Medicare will continue providing benefits.

“The federal government is America’s largest employer,” Obama said. “All this is preventable. One faction of one party in one branch of government … doesn’t get to shut down the government just to fight the results of an election.”