Coweta not seeing big effects from shutdown
by Wes Mayer
Tuesday’s government shutdown has left approximately 800,000 federal workers temporarily without a job, but it does not appear to have greatly affected Coweta County, and Congressman Lynn Westmoreland’s offices in both Newnan and Washington, D.C., will remain open.
“My office runs on as little money as possible to properly serve my constituents, and for that reason I have returned money every year since taking office,” said Rep. Westmoreland, R-Ga. Third District and a resident of Grantville. “So while I believe that all my staff is essential, because other federal employees will be affected across the country, I have furloughed staff members. While some staff will be furloughed each day, both the Newnan and Washington, D.C., offices will be open to ensure our staff can take calls and help constituents in as many ways as possible.”
Leslie Shedd, communications director with Westmoreland’s office, has written a blog post on the congressman’s website about the effects of the shutdown. Shedd gathered the information from the guidance manual for the shutdown furloughs written by the United States Office of Personnel Management.
According to Shedd, the services and agencies affected by the shutdown include: tours of the U.S. Capitol building; new passport applications will not be accepted; all national parks, public museums will be closed; and government funded small business loans will not be processed. The Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta may also be affected.
Low-income women, infants and children will not be able to receive funding from the federal government, although state funding for WIC will continue.
Agencies and services not affected, according to Shedd, include: anything necessary to protect public health, safety or property; disaster response programs, although non-disaster programs will be postponed; Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other non-discretionary spending or entitlement programs; the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and unemployment benefits; the Food Safety and Inspection service; the Department of Veterans Affairs; and the Federal Housing Authority.
According to USA.gov, the federal courts will remain operational, and the national weather service will continue to issue weather alerts, forecasts and warnings. The Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency will operate with limited personnel, and the National Institute of Health’s clinical center will not be taking any new patients for clinical trials for the time being.
Services such as Medicare and Medicaid may be affected if the government shutdown period is extended, according to USA.gov. The same goes for veterans’ compensation, pension, education, and other benefits. In addition, call centers, hotlines and regional offices that help veterans with their benefits will be closed to the public. Congress voted to continue paying all active duty military personnel in a later vote.