Portlanders to protest gov’t shutdown

Budget battle, government shutdown
Janette Dunder protested outside the Capitol building as Congress continued its budget battle Monday, Sept. 30, 2013, in Washington, D.C. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — It’s official: the United States federal government is partially shut down for the first time in 17 years.

Budget Battle
Just off the floor of the Senate, the hands on the famous Ohio Clock point to 12 midnight, the deadline for Congress to reach an agreement to fund the government, at the Capitol in Washington, Monday night, Sept. 30, 2013. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

“This has consequences,” said Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer, by phone from the District of Columbia Monday night. “[There’s] no need to drag the public through political games.”

On Monday night Democrats and Republicans failed to reach a last-minute deal before the midnight deadline. So what’s next?

At the Oregon Air National Guard base, near the Portland International Airport, the impacts are already being felt. Guard members are still being asked to show up Tuesday, for “further guidance.” But for that there’s the question of whether they’ll be paid.

Critical services — such as the fighter jets and guard fire fighters — will stay online. The government stresses public safety is priority No. 1.

Young Rocket Scientists
Navy Capt. Kathy Reed, right, gives a graduation certificate from STARBASE to fifth-grader Jalen Hunt Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2011. Hunt participated in the STARBASE–Atlantis program. (AP Photo/Melissa Nelson)

But there will be fewer training flights at the Portland, Ore., base. And the guard’s Starbase program, which teaches advance math and science to Portland school students, has already been cancelled for the week. One of the teachers in the Starbase program, who also works for the airfighter wing, is one who would be furloughed in the event of a federal shut-down.

In Oregon alone there are 220 “federally reimbursed state employees” and another 790 “federally employed technicians” being furloughed as a result of this federal shutdown, said Capt. Stephen Bomar with the Oregon National Guard.

National parks — such as Crater Lake National Park east of Roseburg, Ore. — will close, and U.S. forest properties such as Multnomah Falls Lodge could see disruptions.

Those camping on federal lands have 48 hours to vacate.

For now, federal unemployment benefits will continue at least through this week.

At the VA Hospital in Southwest Portland, it’s business as Monday night — and business as usual Tuesday even with the government shutdown. “Critical federal services” will still be in place such as emergency services, national security, and the postal service.

Local economist Dr. Tom Potiowsky said it’s up to the public to make some noise.

“What particular services will the public have an outcry [on] if these services are not provided?” Potiowsky asked.

Services are what some say will take a back seat to political bickering between the Democratic-led Senate and a Republican-controlled house.

“To continue to hold us accountable for something we can’t control,” said Amanda Schroeder, “is inappropriate.”

Schroeder — who represents local federal employees — is organizing a Portland rally Tuesday. That rally is being coordinated through the American Federation of Government Employees Local 2157.

Meanwhile, according to the Oregon National Guard’s main social media page, “All federal technicians and federally reimbursed state employees are directed to report for work Tuesday.” Federal employees reporting Tuesday will “receive further guidance on potential shutdown furloughs,” the guard reports.

Oregon’s and Washington’s elected officials in the nation’s capitol will not be furloughed. Congresspersons will still take home their paychecks of $174,000 a year.

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