For the third time in three years, the federal government is on the brink of a shutdown that could wreak havoc on the lives of tens of thousands of workers in the D.C. area.
Members of Congress have until midnight Thursday to pass a budget and avert trouble for many local families.
This time, there are several battles going on at once, over whether to approve a huge infrastructure plan, over how and when to raise the debt ceiling, and over how to fund the government.
Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Virginia) said she’s hoping to help avert a shutdown.
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“A government shutdown puts us behind every time as a nation, every time it happens. It is also just a terrible impact on the lives of the individual federal employees who are working hard,” she said.
A shutdown would force the closure of many federal offices and send nonessential federal workers home without pay until there’s a resolution. It also would shutter federal parks and programs.
It could have a financially crippling impact on many families in the D.C. area, the head of one of the major federal workers’ unions said.
“This could be really tricky because many of our members are living paycheck to paycheck,” said Everett Kelley, president of the American Federation of Government Employees. “Unless their creditors and landlords agree to work with them, this could be very devastating.”
Some business owners on Capitol Hill were worried about a potentially huge financial blow.
“I think we’re gonna lose a lot of our customers — walk-in customers from the Capitol up to here, and I think that’s gonna affect our business,” said Yaser Joudeh, manager of the Pennsylvania Avenue restaurants Good Stuff Eatery and We, The Pizza.
The businesses that employ about 50 people were bracing for losses of up to 30%, Joudeh said.
The sisters behind The Furlough Cheesecake shop, in National Harbor, said they were all too familiar with government shutdowns. Nikki Howard and Jaqi Wright, former government employees, turned their side hustle baking cheesecakes into a bigger business after they were furloughed in 2018.
They had this advice: “Don’t necessarily focus on the problem. There are always problems looming. What you need to do is look inside and figure out, What can I do to get by?”
Both chambers of Congress are in session until midnight Thursday night. If they don’t cut a deal, Friday morning could be very quiet on Capitol Hill.