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What a federal government shutdown could mean for workers in D.C.

WUSA-TV Washington, D.C. logo WUSA-TV Washington, D.C. 9/26/2021 Megan Rivers
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It’s the financial crisis nobody wants to see happen right now: a government shutdown.

The Senate is expected to vote on the government funding bill in the coming days, but there's not a lot of hope it'll pass given the impasse on the debt limit.

Federal agencies are already on notice with the threat of shutdown on the horizon. D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton said the impacts of a government shutdown would be different for people living in the District.

“I have been able to get a provision in the budget that indicates that if there is a shutdown, the DC government will not shutdown,” Norton said.

The threat of a possible government shutdown is all too familiar.  The last time we saw a gridlock like this, the federal government shut down for 35 days. It cost billions of dollars.

Norton said she gets an annual appropriation in case of a shutdown. The district is prepared for that possibility, according to Norton, who said it would have a different impact on neighbors in Virginia and Maryland.

“Whatever state you live in, unless you live in the District of Columbia, you may be affected which would simply have a delay in the federal benefits due them until the government opens up,” Norton said.

An unprecedented pandemic-era shutdown could take a significant toll on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health. 

Democrats and Republicans are at odds over the spending measure and increasing the debt ceiling, which includes aid for Hurricane Ida victims and Afghan refugees.

"I'm not going to increase a debt limit to spend another 5 trillion dollars in the next month,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said.

Norton said a provision went through on Friday in an attempt to prevent a shutdown, but people should still prepare because of the tense political climate.

“A shutdown is not inevitable, and I’m not predicting a shutdown, but because of the polarization in congress and the pending bills that must be passed, there needs to be preparations, especially in the district in case there is a shutdown,” Delegate Holmes Norton added.

U.S. officials warn failure to act could risk "catastrophic" damage to the economy and a default could wipe out nearly six million jobs in an economy that was just bouncing back because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

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