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Government shutdown: Local effects unclear

By CHRISTOPHER SMITH

The federal government entered a partial shutdown at midnight last night after Congress failed to pass a measure to renew the government’s spending authority, but it was not immediately clear how that might affect local residents.

The U.S. House of Representatives approved the short-term funding measure Thursday, but the Senate could not get the 60 votes it needed to pass. The issue became tied to President Trump’s border and immigration policies, which include ending DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals was an executive action taken by President Barack Obama that allowed undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. under the age of 16 to apply for protection from deportation. Democrats oppose ending the policy.

The partial shutdown is not expected to “essential services,” including the military. However, civilian employees of the military will be placed on furlough if an agreement is not reached this weekend.

As the vote loomed, South Alabama Regional Airport manager Jed Blackwell said he was already looking ahead to what stalled payments could mean for the airport, which sells fuel to the military.

“We just want to make sure that we get paid for the fuel that we sell to the government,” Blackwell said. “We will work through the issues we just are a little concerned about that pay.”

The shut down, it could mean that funding would be completely cut off.

“We usually get paid 10 days after we sell the fuel, but with the shutdown we don’t know what might happen,” Blackwell said.

Blackwell said he felt certain area military pilots would continue to fly in and out of SARA and to purchase fuel. But he wants to make sure he manages the airport’s cash flow carefully.

“We’ve made all the necessary preparations in case the government does shut down, but we will wait to take action whenever the news is certain,” Blackwell said.

If the partial shutdown continues into next week, the U.S. Postal Service will continue to deliver mail; Social Security will continue to issue checks.

It was not immediately clear how the Conecuh National Forest and its employees would be affected. The forestry service is part of the USDA.

U.S. Rep. Martha Roby as a field office in Andalusia, which was expected to remain open. Congress continues to be paid in a shutdown.

Roby issued a statement yesterday saying, “While I continue to have serious concerns with short-term funding measures, I still voted in favor of the Continuing Resolution Thursday night in the House because I believe it is critical that we keep the government open and running, especially as it relates to our military. I hope that Senate Democrats will reverse course and stop blocking this bill over an unrelated immigration issue that does not have an immediate deadline. However, in the event that the government does shut down, all of my congressional offices will remain open to continue serving the needs of those I represent.”

Newly elected U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, a Democrat, voted with the Republicans in favor of keeping the government operational.