Agencies, including MCLB, could feel sting of potential federal government shutdown

ALBANY — Federal agencies — including those represented in the Albany area, such as Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany — stood to feel a sting come this morning as a resolution was pending to avoid a federal government shutdown.

The U.S. Congress was still in deadlock late Monday over Republican efforts to halt the implementation of health care reforms set to go into effect today, and the federal government was on the verge of shutting down many of its agencies starting this morning.

The Democratic-controlled Senate killed a proposal by the GOP-led House of Representatives to delay the Affordable Care Act for a year in return for temporary funding of the federal government past the end of the federal government Fiscal year 2013, which ended at midnight Monday. After a 54-46 vote in the Senate, the legislation was returned to the House, where a senior Republican aide said the party would continue to seek a one-year delay in the health reform requirement for all individuals to obtain health insurance as part of a new spending bill.

The measure also would require the president, senior administration officials and members of Congress and their aides to participate in the Affordable Care Act.

As of late Monday, the Senate had rejected all House efforts to modify the law in connection with the spending bill.

Failure to reach an agreement to extend funding by this morning will force many federal agencies and programs to close or partially close for the first time in 17 years, placing up to 1 million federal workers on unpaid leave. The military will still function normally, but many civilian employees will be sent home, as will be the case with MCLB-Albany.

“Military personnel and excepted civilian personnel will continue to work through the potential period of shutdown,” officials with MCLB-Albany said Monday in a statement. “These personnel will not be paid during the shutdown, but will receive paychecks retroactively once appropriations are made available.

“All other civilian personnel will be furloughed for the extent of the shutdown, in accordance with guidelines established by the Office of Personnel and Management. Positions critical to national security, public health and safety, medical care, power and maintenance, emergency and disaster assistance, and vital areas will not be furloughed.”

The federal judiciary system, which includes the C.B. King Courthouse in downtown Albany, was expected to remain open after the onset of a government shutdown for 10 business days.

“On or around October 15, 2013, the Judiciary will reassess its situation and provide further guidance (in the event of a shutdown),” a statement from United States Courts said last week. “All proceedings and deadlines remain in effect as scheduled, unless otherwise advised. Case Management/Electronic Case Files (CM/ECF) will remain in operation for the electronic filing of documents with courts.”

Some functions deemed essential, such as U.S. Department of Agriculture meat inspections, will continue. Other agencies will be left with skeleton crews for emergencies until Congress resolves its differences.

“The American people are mighty fed up with this partisan bickering, which is threatening the livelihoods of millions of Americans and will potentially disrupt our economic recovery,” U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Albany, said Monday regarding the looming shutdown. “Rather than seeking bipartisan consensus, a small minority in the United States Congress have resorted to brinksmanship in the 11th hour in order to achieve their goals.

“I do not believe the founders of our great nation intended for Congress to shun our constitutional and moral responsibility to fund the government. And so, instead of this dangerous course of action, it is time for us to work together and do the job the American people expect us to do.”

The standoff did not bode well for the next political battle, a far-more consequential bill to raise the federal government’s borrowing authority. Failure to raise the $16.7 trillion debt ceiling by mid-October will force the nation to default on some payment obligations — an event that could cripple the economy and send shock waves around the globe.

Reuters News Service contributed to this report