U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., like many in Congress, is increasingly concerned about the potential impact of a government shutdown on federal workers, military personnel and contractors, many of whom live in the area from DC.
He said he believes his constituents in Virginia will feel it more than anywhere else in the country if the government shuts down at midnight this Saturday.
"There is no state, on a per capita basis, that is more affected during a shutdown than Virginia," Warner said.
Warner notes that the Commonwealth has more than 170,000 federal employees and tens of thousands of military personnel stationed at bases across the state, as well as at the Pentagon.
He also notes that Virginia is home to a large number of federal contractors.
"Even though they ultimately get paid, when a shutdown ends, they don't get paid in the meantime," he said. "You can't spend your mortgage."
Warner and Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., issued a joint statement Tuesday urging House Republicans not to allow a shutdown to happen, noting it could be “particularly devastating” for members of the military.
“In Virginia alone, 129,400 active duty service members will be forced to continue working without pay, a phenomenon that will undermine our national security and threaten the well-being of military families,” they said. "Service members should never be put in this situation."
Rep. Glenn Ivey, D-Md., said his constituents are also concerned about how a shutdown could affect them.
"We have a lot of federal employees in my district," he said. “Although they will eventually get paid, some of them will need the payments now to cover rent, food and immediate expenses.”
Warner still has bad memories of the shutdown between 2018 and 2019 that lasted 35 days, the longest shutdown in the country's history.
"I just don't understand anyone who is calculating that somehow this is best for the country, or even for their short-term political interest," he said.
Warner said, as he has in the past, that a shutdown is “stupidity on steroids.”
In 2019, Warner proposed legislation called the 'Stop Stupidity Act', to try to prevent future shutdowns.
He believes members of Congress should not be paid during a shutdown.
Other lawmakers have proposed several bills aimed at preventing closures, but none of them have passed.
How would the shutdown affect the upcoming elections in Virginia?
Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin says if a shutdown were to occur, his state would be especially hard hit, WTOP's Nick Iannelli reports.
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, a Republican, said a government shutdown “really hurts Virginia.”
"We have so many people who work for the government or are part of the government," Youngkin said. “That is simply a reality.”
The political stakes are high for Youngkin, as early voting has just begun in the Nov. 7 legislative elections that will determine which party controls the Virginia General Assembly.
"There's still time to figure something out," Youngkin said.
When asked if a shutdown would hurt Republicans in the election, Youngkin responded and placed the blame on President Biden.
"I think President Biden has a very important role to play here," Youngkin said. "He has the responsibility to lead and try to bring people together."
Youngkin said he would like to see Biden “fully engage here and not ignore it and just let it happen.”
Maryland leader calls closure impacts “unacceptable”
According to Senator Chris Van Hollen, the impact of a government shutdown will be strongly felt by Maryland's military class.
The shutdown, he said, “could force more than 1.3 million active-duty soldiers to work without pay, including nearly 30,000 here in Maryland. “That is unacceptable.”
He added that these disruptions could extend to daily needs like Meals on Wheels services, affect wait times at airports and more. For area students, the University of Maryland said, the closure could cause disruptions to student aid services.
"In addition to delaying paychecks to millions of federal employees and forcing operational cuts across a spectrum of agencies, the potential federal funding gap could have a variety of impacts on the University of Maryland community, from research to services." federal for international students,” the school said. in a message to the community.
Clinical trials and research conducted through federal partnerships may continue for some, but the White House has determined that trials at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, would be among those that would cease if a shutdown occurred.
"New patients, many of whom are desperately waiting for an opportunity to receive a new treatment through a clinical trial, will be turned away," the White House said.
Additionally, the Small Business Administration, which has approved more than $340 million in 7a and 504 loans for Maryland Projects, will not be able to accept, review or approve new commercial loans for small businesses in this state, Virginia and the District.
DC restaurant pleads “not to close it”
In central Washington, restaurants spent much of the pandemic struggling to keep their doors open while watching the feds who showed up for lunch and dinner literally disappear overnight. Now, as they see crowds growing again, the threat of a government shutdown is not good news for the District of Columbia.
“Trying to recover doesn't help,” said Yared Betsate, general manager of Ella's Wood Fired Kitchen in Penn Quarter.
Federal employees from the U.S. Department of Justice, the Department of Commerce and even the White House are regular customers of the restaurant.
“I mean, being here downtown and in the Penn Quarter area, you have all the federal buildings around you, so it will definitely affect us,” Betsate said.
Betsate said at least half of his customers, especially during lunch hours, are there because of government-related jobs in the area.
"There are a lot of lobbyists... and the Gallup polls are up," he said.
There are also the crowds that the Smithsonian museums draw to the area. Many of them would close if we don't get a budget deal in time.
Betsate said as far as the schedule goes, at least the hockey season is about to start, so the Capital One Arena crowds will help ease some of the pain in case the government shuts down, but he hopes it doesn't come. to that.
His plea to government leaders: "Don't shut it down."