On Tuesday, September 30 Congressman Tim Bishop issued a statement on the federal shutdown, the first federal shutdown in 17 years, which began at midnight on Tuesday impacting federal employees, closing federal facilities across the country and even shutting down some government websites.
“The House GOP has voted to ensure a harmful, and completely avoidable, shutdown of federal government operations beginning today,” said Bishop. “It is deeply reckless that the House leadership and its Tea Party-dominated caucus have abdicated their responsibility to govern and, instead, have chosen to pursue partisan political goals at the expense of the American people’s interests.”
“I share the frustration of my constituents that Congress failed to reach an agreement to keep the government operating,” continued Bishop. “However, having failed repeatedly to overturn the Affordable Care Act through the democratic and judicial processes, the House GOP has taken the government — and potentially the nation’s full faith and credit — as hostage. Funding the authorized operations of the government and paying our bills is not a concession to Democrats. It’s our job.”
“I remain hopeful that there will be a change of heart among my colleagues and the destructive effects of this shutdown will be reversed soon,” said Bishop. “My offices on Long Island and in Washington will remain open to serve my constituents during this period. It is important to note that Social Security payments, and Medicare and Medicaid coverage are funded through a mandatory appropriations process and will not be affected.”
Locally, Bishop said the Social Security District Office in Patchogue is open to handle urgent issues such as appeals and benefit applications, although applications for a social security number or card will not be processed.
Sandy related appropriations legislation will continue to fund some Army Corps of Engineer projects, said Bishop, including the Fire Island to Montauk Point Study and the emergency project to stabilize the beach in downtown Montauk.
However, Bishop said Sandy construction projects and other future operations could be affected in the event of a prolonged shutdown.
In Westhampton, all or nearly all of the 218 “dual status” technicians who had previously been furloughed at the 106th Rescue Wing at Gabreski Air Base due to sequestration budget cuts will now be furloughed for the duration of the shutdown.
Operations at Calverton National Cemetery are fully funded until October 15, according to Bishop. However, after that date, two-thirds of the cemetery’s employees will be furloughed.
The direct student loan program at Stony Brook University will not be affected, said Bishop, and the payment management system at the National Institutes of Health, SBU’s largest source of research funds, will also be available. However, administrative support will not be funded and new grant applications can be filed but they will not be acted upon until the workforce returns.
Fire Island National Seashore will be closed to visitors, although residents and contractors will still be able to access Fire Island at Robert Moses State Park. Both the Morton National Wildlife Refuse in Noyac and the Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge in Shirley will also be closed.
The Internal Revenue Service field officer and the taxpayer advocate service is also closed with its employees furloughed and the US Customs and Immigration field office in Holtsville will operate at full capacity as they are primarily funded through user fees.