ST. GEORGE — The government shutdown continues as members of Congress have yet to come to a meeting of the minds despite weekend sessions aimed at overcoming the impasse that brought many government functions to a halt Friday.
Republicans and Democrats alike appeared no closer Saturday to settling their differences over immigration policy and striking an agreement to fund the government. A Senate showdown vote on a Republican plan for ending the federal shutdown is on track to occur Monday at 1 a.m. EST but could occur earlier. Democrats say they have the votes to block it.
The effects of an ongoing government shutdown will become more pronounced Monday.
Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management of Budget at the White House, on “Fox News Sunday,” described three categories of federal employees that will be affected if the shutdown continues into Monday: those who continue to come to work, another group that will come to work for about four hours “to help shut things down” and those who will not come to work at all.
“But most Americans won’t see a difference,” Mulvaney said.
As the federal official in charge of managing government operations during the lapse in funding, Mulvaney is taking steps to ameliorate the shutdown, giving agencies more flexibility to remain open by using, for instance, previously appropriated money to keep their doors open.
One example of program services expected to continue in Utah through such previously appropriated federal money is the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, or WIC. In a Friday statement issued by Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, he recalled the 2013 government shutdown when the state was not authorized to spend any reserves. The WIC program had to be shut down during that time. In the current shutdown, the governor noted, the Trump administration is allowing use of reserves such as Utah has for the WIC program. Therefore, the WIC program in Utah will continue functioning.
Mulvaney said Friday: “We are going to manage the shutdown differently. We are not going to weaponize it. We’re not going to try and hurt people, especially people who happen to work for this federal government.”
Government services are divided into two categories: essential and nonessential. The essential services will continue uninterrupted. Nonessential services will see varying impacts.
Among essential services to continue uninterrupted are mail delivery, Social Security checks, Medicare, Medicaid, air traffic control systems, FBI, Customs and Border Protection, and veterans hospitals.
Among nonessential services are those provided at national parks; the parks will remain open, but services that involve rangers, park personnel, trash pickup and the like will be curtailed and operation hours for visitors centers may be limited or closed.
Law enforcement officers and active duty military personnel, including reserve component personnel on federal active duty, are among the essential government employees who will stay on their posts without pay during the shutdown.
Vice President Mike Pence is blasting Congress for playing politics with military pay in this way. Soldiers and their families “shouldn’t have to worry about getting paid,” he said.
“You deserve better,” Pence told U.S. soldiers stationed near the Syrian border Sunday.
The American Forces Network, the broadcast service operated for the military, however, shut down its service.
The National Guard is federally funded but administered within the state; guardsmen, while not active-duty, may be deployed at any time. Of guardsmen in Utah, Herbert said in his Friday statement:
“The largest state organization most directly affected by a federal government shutdown would be the Utah National Guard. Although the roughly 1,000 active duty guard members will ensure that critical functions continue, an additional 1,300 full-time employees who are not active duty, such as federally funded technicians, would be affected. Utah National Guard drills would have to be cancelled.”
About half of the nearly 2 million civilian federal workers whose service is funded by congressional appropriations will be furloughed – put on temporary leave – if the shutdown extends into Monday; other such employees whose services are considered essential will still report to work.
Other nonessential government functions will be put on hold, thing like new veterans benefits claims being processed, support services from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to administer the government’s seasonal flu program, about 40,000 or so of Internal Revenue Service employees just as tax filing season begins and sweeping changes have been made to tax law.
Generally, pay for essential and nonessential workers that would have accrued during the shutdown, whether or not they work, will depend upon a new appropriations bill, continuing resolution or other such legislation passing Congress and being signed by the president.
The Associated Press contributed to this report, including parts written by ALAN FRAM, ANDREW TAYLOR, ZEKE MILLER, KEVIN FREKING, Associated Press.
St. George News Editor-in-Chief Joyce Kuzmanic contributed to this report.
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