How the federal government shutdown affects South Jersey

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EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP – Effective today (Tuesday, Oct. 1), funding for most federal government operations has been suspended as a result of the failure by the U.S. Congress to approve a resolution that authorizes funding for government agencies.

Until legislation providing for funding is signed into law, many offices and programs of the federal government are now shut down, including the William J. Hughes Technical Center in Egg Harbor Township. Below is information on some of the effects South Jersey residents can expect:

Airport open, tech center closed

The Federal Aviation Administration security staff at the Atlantic City International Airport will still be working, according to an FAA statement. The positions are considered essential, as are rail travel personnel and air traffic controllers.

"Safety is our top priority," the FAA stated Monday, Sept. 30. "The FAA continues to support President Obama's FY2014 budget and strongly believes that Congress still has time to act and a lapse in appropriations should not occur. In the event of a lapse in funding, the FAA has prepared a contingency plan in which air traffic controllers, some safety inspectors and other essential employees will continue working in order to maintain the safety of the national airspace system."

However, most of 1,500 FAA employees who work at the William J. Hughes Technical Center, along with 1,500 contractor employees, are likely to be on unpaid furlough until the shutdown is over.

According to a statement by the FAA, much of the work that is conducted at the tech center will stop.

"The Technical Center supports a variety of aviation missions. The center will continue to support National Airspace System operations functions and other key infrastructure support and sustainment functions to ensure safe and efficient operations. Safety research and airport research and development work will continue based upon the continued availability of those funds," the statement reads. "Most system development and testing work including much of the NextGen work at the Technical Center will cease while the government is shut down."

Some services to continue 

- U.S. Postal Service will deliver mail, as it operates as an independent business unit.

- Social Security and Medicaid are permanent benefits, and checks will continue to be issued; however, some effects may be felt in some administrative procedures.

- Unemployment benefits will continue to be paid.

- The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is funded through the Recovery Act, funds which don't expire for another year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

- The USDA expects most schools will be able to continue providing meals through October.

- Internal Revenue Service will continue to collect taxes, but audit proceedings in process will be suspended.

- All active military service will continue as they provide an essential function, but if a shutdown lasts longer than a week, the Pentagon might not be able to process payroll in time for the Oct. 15 paychecks, according to a report on USAToday.com. 

- The Department of Veterans Affairs said if the shutdown continues into late October, it will run out of money for compensation and pension checks to more than 3.6 million veterans. For now, the checks will be sent as usual.

Weather agencies scaled back

Governmental entities such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and National Hurricane Center will not be updating their social media accounts with advisories during the shutdown. Citizens are advised to visit the organization’s main websites for weather-related information.

“Only websites necessary to protect lives and property will be maintained,” a NOAA message stated.

For information on hurricane related advisories go to www.hurricanes.gov for the latest information regarding the tropics, which can still be active at this time of year.
“Rest assured, the National Hurricane Center remains operational and will continue to provide its mission,” the message said.

Effects on real estate programs

The National Association of Realtors issued a statement on how the agencies related to the real estate market will operate during the shutdown. According to NAR:

The Federal Housing Administration will endorse new loans in the single-family mortgage loan program, but it will not make new commitments in the multi-family program during the shutdown. FHA will maintain operational activities including paying claims and collecting premiums. There may be some delays with FHA processing; lenders will continue to process and guarantee mortgages through the loan guarantee program in the event of a government shutdown. Expect some delays during the shutdown.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency said the National Flood Insurance Program will be unaffected by the shutdown since NFIP is funded by premiums and not tax dollars. Changes to the flood insurance program scheduled to take effect Oct. 1 will be implemented as scheduled.

For the U.S. Department of Agriculture programs, essential personnel working during a shutdown do not include field office staff who typically issue conditional commitments, loan note guarantees and modification approvals. Thus, lenders will receive no approvals during the shutdown. If the lender has already received a conditional commitment from the rural development office, then the lender may proceed to close those loans during the shutdown. If rural development has not issued a conditional commitment, the lender must wait until funding legislation is enacted before closing a loan.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will continue operating normally, as will their regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, since they are not reliant on appropriated funds.

The Making Home Affordable program, including HAMP and HAFA, will be unaffected, as the program is funded through the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, which is mandatory spending, not discretionary.

LoBiondo says he won’t accept pay

U.S. representatives and senators are still entitled to paychecks during the shutdown. However, U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo issued a statement saying he would decline his pay during the shutdown.

“Due to an ongoing budget stalemate between Congress and the Obama administration, at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday Oct. 1, 2013 the U.S. federal government shut down,” he said in the news release. “Until a compromise solution is approved by Congress and signed by the president into law, the shutdown will remain in effect. For the duration of a government shutdown, I will not accept any pay.”

He said that for the duration of the shutdown, his congressional offices in Mays Landing and Washington would remain open, but with reduced staffing.

Read more:

LoBiondo signals movement on shutdown


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