About 800,000 federal workers are being forced off the job in the first government shutdown in 17 years, suspending most nonessential federal programs and services.
The shutdown began when Congress missed a midnight deadline Monday to pass a temporary funding bill, stalled by conservative efforts to push through a delay in the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Here in San Diego, thousands of federal workers will be furloughed.
San Diego-based employees of the Internal Revenue Services received an email just after midnight Monday letting them know they’re on a furlough.
There are about 300 IRS employees in San Diego County according to Malcom Gettman, President of the National Treasury Employees Union.
He lived through the 1995 government shutdown and said the tone from Congressional leaders is entirely different this time around.
“They simply don’t like the President of the United States and they’re going to take it out on anyone and everyone,” Gettman said.
Among the IRS services that will be unavailable: new homeowners clearing escrow if a previous owner had a tax lien or consumers gaining information on tax implications of the ACA.
IRS taxpayer assistance centers and toll-free phone numbers are shut down.
“If you had an ongoing collection issue, that debt is still accruing interest,” he added. “There’s no one there to take your payment.”
He’s angry that he and his co-workers have lived with pay freezes, rising costs of living and health insurance and still face an indefinite work furlough.
“Still we have a House of Representatives that continues to bash federal employees and treat us like garbage. That’s unconscionable,” Gettman said.
At Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) in San Diego's Midway area, more than 1,000 employees filled out furlough paperwork then were sent home.
SPAWAR employee Melodi Glandon said this is first for her and doesn’t know what to expect.
“It’s difficult you do the best you can. That’s all you can do,” Glandon said.
Unlike most military commands, more than 90-percent of SPAWAR workers are Department of Defense civilians. About 1500 of the 5000 local workers will have their paychecks delayed by a government stoppage.
Another SPAWAR employee, Alan Klump, blames President Barack Obama for the shutdown and the uncertainty for federal employees.
“He’s in charge and he let it happen,” Klump said.
Delays in decisions from the Pentagon and Congress needed in the next few days could delay products getting to military personnel in the field.
“If that money is not made available and we can’t get do our work here then the Navy suffers,” said SPAWAR Employee John Metzger.
“Ships can’t operate, aircraft can’t communicate. If the shutdown happens, that will be impacted,” Metzger said.
He said he has written to his Congressional representatives to explain how he and his family are living month-to-month following the recent furloughs and now facing a government shutdown.
Elsewhere in San Diego, military commissaries on local bases will also be closed indefinitely beginning Wednesday.
The U.S. Marine Corps released the total number of employees affected by furlough at Marine Corps installations within the western region.
The most - 1163 - are stationed at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. Another 324 employees are at MCAS Miramar and another 360 employees at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot will be affected.
Military officials said the employees will be given a few hours Tuesday to close out accounts and email.
The Cabrillo National Monument, normally open daily, was closed Tuesday. The ongoing showdown in Washington, D.C. threatens a weekend of events planned to commemorate the park's centennial.
Scheduled school field trips have been canceled affecting about 400 local students.
Money concerns are also an issue for seniors and veterans living at the San Diego Senior Community Center in East Village.
The center provides social workers and meals to keep seniors out of the hospital and keep them healthy. Close to 70-percent of the people his organization serves are veterans.
One of the company’s executives Brent Wakefield said the decision by Congress to shutdown the government was unwise.
“A lot of our clients live in single-room occupancy buildings downtown and if they don’t have money at the beginning of the month, they risk becoming homeless,” Wakefield said. “This is something that really can’t happen for them.
He said the center won’t close its doors immediately. Their operation can withstand a government shutdown for a couple of months but smaller operations will be forced to close.
Although Social Security and Medicare benefits will keep coming, there could be delays in processing disability applications.
Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton and its seven Branch Health Clinics will be open for normal operations.
Scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) will be on duty through the shutdown and would be called upon to help if there were to be a major earthquake in the United States.
Fish and Wildlife Service firefighters will be on duty to respond to a wild fire if needed.
As for camping or visiting BLM-managed lands, all campgrounds and recreation facilities will be closed. However, any non-developed areas with no controlled access are open for visitors without services.