Congressman Jim Moran warned Wednesday that the Northern Virginia area could see a negative impact to its economy if a federal government shutdown occurs, which he gives a 50-50 percent of happening if there is no agreement by midnight Friday.
If debate on Capitol Hill over the federal debt ceiling or spending bills leads to the government shutdown that many fear, the majority of workers who make up the federal government payroll would likely be kept at home without pay.
Fairfax County (parts of which are included in Moran’s 8th District), has a combined nondefense federal payroll of $586,991,000 annually or $1,608,194.52 per day, according to the Consolidated Federal Funds Report.
There are more than 100,000 federal employeesin the area made up of Fairfax and Arlington counties and the cities of Alexandria and Falls Church, according to the government consulting firm Eye on Washington, using figures from the Office of Personnel Management.
“This is crunch time, it’s very serious, this is not 1995 where the government closed down and everyone was fully reimbursed,” Moran said in a conference call with reporters, alluding to a 21-day government shutdown in December 1995 to January 1996. He says based on conversations with congressional colleagues, he doesn't think federal employees will see a reimbursement of their salary this time.
The shutdown could have “an extremely severe impact inside the Beltway,” Moran said. “This is still a company town. The federal government would be a shadow of what it is today. It will hurt the stores, the grocery stores, the restaurants…every private-sector element will be affected. They may not be aware of that now, but they will, especially if it lasts more than a couple of weeks.”
“More government services than ever before are outsourced to private firms because this practice reduces costs and helps to maximize efficiency in the delivery of government services,” said Jim Corcoran, president and CEO of the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce.
“A significant contributor to the economy in Northern Virginia is the large population of government contracting firms that provide critical services like defense support, information technology, accounting and much more to the federal government," he said. "Should the federal government shut down, the operations of many contracts will cease – putting employees out of work, stopping the flow of funds and creating confusion across the industry. While it’s important to focus on getting the U.S. government’s finances in order, it’s not in anyone’s best interest for the federal government to shut down, stopping services – including those provided by private firms – and negatively impacting citizens and the economic conditions across the country, and especially in Northern Virginia.”
If some kind of agreement, either long-term or temporary, is not reached by midnight Friday, Moran said a shutdown could take place. To help answer questions from federal employees and constituents, Moran plans to hold a town hall meeting Thursday night, from 7:30-9 p.m. at Francis Hammond Middle School, 4646 Seminary Road, in Alexandria.
“We need to start preparing,” Moran said. “I’m not trying to be critical of the White House, but they’re putting 100 percent of their focus into keeping the government open. They don’t want to be associated with a shutdown.”
Moran said that the Capitol itself would be operating with bare-bones services.
In Northern Virginia, other affects could be seen almost immediately, with the possible cancellation this weekend of the 27th annual George Washington Parkway Classic, set for Sunday. Personnel from the National Park Service, which runs the parkway, would not be available in the event of a shutdown. If the race is postponed, it will be rescheduled for May 1st.
Officials from the Cherry Blossom Festival in D.C. are also waiting to hear whether some festivities held on federal park land may have to be cancelled.
Other federal services that could be affected would include:
- Processing of passports
- Processing of tax refunds
- Processing of Social Security and Disability claim applications
- National parks would be closed