Running Around a Federal Shutdown - NBC4 Washington

Running Around a Federal Shutdown

Lawmakers have until April 8 to pass a new budget or extension

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    Businesses are bracing for a possible government shutdown.

    With another federal government shutdown looming, businesses, residents and even runners across the region are stretching themselves to stay ahead. 

    While everyone is hoping for the best, locals do not want to leave their fate in the federal government's hands.

    The three-week budget extension passed in March will expire at the end of this week.  The president and leaders of Congress were scheduled to meet today to discuss ways to break an impasse between the House and Senate. 

    While time still remains to reach an agreement, the uncertainty has already affected many in the region.

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    In Loudoun County, the National Conference Center does about $20 million of business with the federal government each year, hosting meetings and offering rooms.  However, with the threat of the shutdown looming, $5.4 million in bookings -- including government training sessions, seminars, and other events -- have been put on hold, and could potentially go away completely.  For the more than 300 staff members that work at the center, that is bad news.

    Kurt Krause, the center's general manager, said his sales staff has already begun realigning the business to court more private companies.  With better than half of the hotel's business going to the federal agencies and armed forces, he said the government has been a "great customer" that has left him with a lot of new vacancies.

    "I only hope that Congress passes the budget this week," he said.  "Unfortunately, I am planning for something else to happen."

    He's not the only one planning for the worst.  This Sunday, area runners have been looking forward to the George Washington Parkway Classic, a 10-mile race that ends up in Old Town Alexandria.  But the race, which has been coordinated by organizers with the National Park Service and the local government, may get run off the road by a shutdown.

    The event's organizers have been petitioning the Park Service to get an exemption so they can run on Sunday even if a shutdown happens. 

    Kathy Dalby, a race director, said the NPS has been very receptive, but doesn't have clear guidance about how the shutdown would shape up. 

    "The staff themselves don't really have the answer," she said. "They are figuring out the protocol."

    A rain date has been planned for May 1, but Dalby said it's not just scheduling, but fitness that she's worried about. 

    "One thing about running is that everybody can be pretty flexible," she said.  "But if you mess with their training, they start getting upset."

    Despite all the extra preparations, the best thing for the race would be a budget deal this week.

    "That would be ideal for everyone in the country," Dalby said.