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Federal government shutdown is harder on black workers

George E. Curry | 10/9/2013, 12:27 p.m.

“In the event of a government shutdown, hundreds of thousands of these dedicated public servants who stay on the job will do so without pay — and several hundred thousand more will be immediately and indefinitely furloughed without pay.”

The shutdown could have dire consequences for national security, according to a report by the Congressional Research Service.

According to the report, “Shutdown of the Federal Government: Causes, Processes, and Effects,” published Sept. 23: “A federal government shutdown could have possible negative security implications as some entities wishing to take actions harmful to U.S. interests may see the nation as physically and politically vulnerable,” the report stated.

If the past is any guide, the shutdown might be short-lived. The longest federal shutdown lasted 21 days, from Dec. 16, 1995 to Jan. 6, 1996. In the past, furloughed federal workers received retroactive pay for the time they were out. But there is no assurance that would happen this time. Members of Congress are exempt from furloughs.

There is also concern that the shutdown will be another setback for the already shaky economy.

Moody’s Analytics estimates that a three-to-four week shutdown could cost the economy about $55 billion, about equal the combined economic disruption caused by Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy.

When the government was shutdown in fiscal year 1996, according to the Congressional Research Service report:

• New patients were not accepted into clinical research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) clinical center, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ceased disease surveillance and hotline calls to NIH concerning diseases were not answered.

• Delays occurred in the processing of alcohol, tobacco, firearms and explosives applications by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

• Work on more than 3,500 bankruptcy cases reportedly was suspended.

• Cancellation of the recruitment and testing of federal law enforcement officials reportedly occurred, including the hiring of 400 border patrol agents.

• Delinquent child-support cases were delayed.

• Closure of 368 National Park Service sites (loss of 7 million visitors) reportedly occurred, with loss of tourism revenues to local communities, and closure of national museums and monuments (reportedly with an estimated loss of 2 million visitors) occurred.

• Approximately 20,000-30,000 applications by foreigners for visas reportedly went unprocessed each day, 200,000 U.S. applications for passports reportedly went unprocessed and U.S. tourist industries and airlines reportedly sustained millions of dollars in losses.

• Multiple services for American veterans were curtailed, ranging from health and welfare benefits to financial and travel services.

• Of $18 billion in Washington, D.C.-area contracts, $3.7 billion (more than 20 percent) reportedly were affected adversely by the funding lapse and employees of federal contractors reportedly were furloughed without pay.

Speaking in the Rose Garden Tuesday, President Obama said: “I will not negotiate over Congress’s responsibility to pay bills it’s already racked up. I’m not going to allow anybody to drag the good name of the United States of America through the mud just to refight a settled election or extract ideological demands. Nobody gets to hurt our economy and millions of hardworking families over a law you don’t like.”

Article originally published by The Afro-American Newspapers.