Fed shutdown hits 50,000 NYC workers, city preps for ‘worst-case’ scenario
Federal courts still open; food stamps in question
Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Saturday that 50,000 federal workers in New York City have been furloughed as a result of the U.S. government shutdown.
Because the city has a rainy day stash, it can continue to fund some services for a month or so, the mayor said. If the shutdown extends past that, however, thousands more residents could be affected, including people receiving food stamps (SNAP) and non-profits providing health care and housing support.
De Blasio told reporters that the Housing Authority and Department of Transportation rely on federal funding and could be affected if the shutdown drags on, along with some terror-related security funding.
“We are blessed in this city to have managed our budget very prudently, to have substantial reserves, so we know we can weather a shutdown of a few weeks. And the longest we’ve ever seen in a federal shutdown is 21 days. But if it continues beyond that, then there are very real dangers for this city,” de Blasio said.
One danger could be the shutdown of the food stamps program.
“1.6 million New York City residents rely on food stamps just to be able to feed their families. Those food stamps will be threatened, the ability to feed their families will be threatened,” he said.
Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks said that food stamps would continue at least through January, but all bets were off after that.
In addition, a lot of nonprofit organizations in New York City depend on direct federal funds, de Blasio said. “They will also feel the pinch very soon. So we are starting to prepare for the worst-case scenario.”
De Blasio pointed the finger at Trump for the shutdown.
“The government is shut down for one reason: the president’s insistence on a border wall that is an affront to our values and that will not make us safer,” he said.
Police, Fire Unaffected by Shutdown
New York City’s public safety agencies are currently unaffected by the shutdown, the mayor said.
“All of our safety agencies, public safety emergency services – all will be operating as normal. NYPD, FDNY, OEM – all of the agencies that protect us – despite this very sad action by the federal government,” de Blasio said.
Federal Courts to Remain Operational through Jan. 11
El Chapo’s trial will go on in Brooklyn as planned.
“At the present time the Judiciary is operating on available fees and it is anticipated we will remain operational through January 11, 2019,” Eugene Corcoran, district executive for U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York, told the Brooklyn Eagle. He added, “The situation is very fluid.”
According a statement on the United States Courts website (uscourts.gov), if the shutdown continues past three weeks, “each court and federal defender’s office would determine the staffing resources necessary to support such work.”
Federal Parks Halt Visitor Services, Hospitals Remain Open
Park roads, trails and open-air memorials at Gateway National Recreation Area will remain accessible to visitors, but emergency and rescue services will be limited, the park said in a statement. There will be no visitor services, however, including public information, restrooms, and maintenance, including plowing. All park programs have been cancelled, including the surf-lifeguard pre-employment tests.
The same situation applies at Floyd Bennett Field. While the National Park Service says the park itself remains open, there will be no services.
Other facilities, however, remain open, including the Veterans Administration Hospital.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that the state will intervene in order to keep the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island open.
“We will not allow President Trump’s repugnant symbol of division close the true representations of who we are as a state and a nation,” he said in a statement. “As we’ve done before when Washington’s dysfunction has shut down the government, New York will step up and ensure the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island remain open for the world to look to for strength and hope during this tumultuous time.”
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