Federal employees in SA brace for government shutdown

Thousands could be sent home from work if dysfunction in congress continues

Federal employees in San Antonio are bracing for the possibility of a government shutdown.
Federal employees in San Antonio are bracing for the possibility of a government shutdown.

SAN ANTONIO – When the clock strikes 12:01 a.m. on the East Coast Tuesday morning, the dysfunction in Washington could hit home in the Alamo City.

If Republicans and Democrats can't strike a deal to fund the federal government, non-essential federal employees would be forced to stay home from work.

In San Antonio, a city with a large military population, the numbers add up.

"Twenty-three thousand -- plus government civilians -- within Joint Base San Antonio will come into work as they usually do on a Tuesday morning, but a majority of them, myself included, will sign a furlough letter and will go home," said Brent Boller, of the Joint Base San Antonio Office of Public Affairs.

Unlike active-duty military members, civilian employees are unlikely to be paid in the case of a government shutdown.

Boller said the latest dysfunction is another kick to the gut of federal employees who have already faced furloughs as a result of sequestration.

"This injects another level of uncertainty, coupled with the furloughs that civilians went through this past summer and the ongoing sequestration, which has severely limited necessary defense spending. All of this has national security implications and ramifications," he said.

The San Antonio Missions Historical National Park would also be shuttered if congress cannot reach a deal.

Superintendent Mardi Arce says the impact goes beyond the 37 department employees facing furloughs.

"Right now, we're busy calling schools to let them know we may not be able to do programs," she said. "Anybody that has a special event planned, even someone coming to do wedding photography, those permits are being cancelled if the closure happens."

After the most recent shutdown in the mid-1990s, Congress voted to retroactively pay furloughed employees for the 21 days of work they missed, but given the current climate in Washington, federal workers aren't holding their breath.

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