US government shutdown will have ‘limited effects’ for NMI

PRESS Secretary Kevin Bautista on Sunday said the recent federal government shutdown will have limited effects for the Commonwealth. 

“While Congress and the White House are in the middle of negotiations on appropriation bills for a portion of the federal government, roughly three-quarters of the government has already been funded by existing funding measures. Accordingly, critical federal services will remain intact, including other programs classified as essential. Commonwealth services remain largely undisrupted,” he said in a statement.

According to Bautista, Federal Emergency Management Agency personnel “deployed and assigned to the CNMI for recovery efforts pertaining to Super Typhoon Yutu and Typhoon Mangkhut, as well as disaster assistance, are not affected. FEMA personnel and disaster assistance are funded through the Disaster Relief Fund, which covers major disasters and emergencies.”

He said the FEMA Disaster Recovery Center at the multi-purpose center in Susupe will be open today, Christmas Eve, from 9 a.m. to 12 noon. It will be closed on Christmas with normal business hours set to resume on Dec. 26, 2018.  

“Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are all slated to remain normal operations. These programs fall under mandatory spending and are not affected by any annual appropriations process,” Bautista said.

“Post offices will remain operational with normal mail delivery. The United States Postal Service is funded by independent sources.”

As for the National Park Service, Babauta said it has announced that American Memorial Park will remain accessible to the public during the shutdown, but emergency and rescue services will be limited. “Through a private partnership, the AMP Visitor Center and bookstore will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except on Christmas. Restrooms, trash collection, and other daily maintenance will be limited.”

Bautista said the “effects of an extended federal government shutdown will grow over time, but the governor and the administration will continue to monitor the situation closely and work with our federal partners on managing essential federal services.”

In its news report Saturday, Washington, D.C. time, Reuters said a “partial U.S. government shutdown was almost certain to drag through the Christmas holiday after the Senate adjourned on Saturday without breaking an impasse over President Donald Trump’s demand for more funds for a border wall.”

Reuters said “with no deal in sight on a bill to fund the government, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell sent senators home until Thursday. While he said he would call them back if a deal was struck, the decision all but guaranteed a partial shutdown would stretch at least until then.”

Reuters said Trump and the Senate Democrats were “seemingly as entrenched in their positions as ever.”

Federal parks, Reuters added, “were to close and more than 400,000 federal ‘essential’ employees in those agencies will work without pay until the dispute is resolved. Another 380,000 will be ‘furloughed,’ meaning they are put on temporary leave.”

Law enforcement efforts, border patrols, mail delivery and airport operations will keep running, Reuters said.