Government shutdown could affect more than 45k federal employees in Alabama

WAFF 48's D'Quan Lee reporting
Published: Sep. 28, 2023 at 8:42 PM CDT

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - A government shutdown looms over thousands of Americans with Congress failing to come to an agreement over how the federal government should be funded.

The number of people possibly affected is widespread. Thousands will not get paid, parks will close and flyers across the country may be waiting in security lines for hours.

In Huntsville, First Baptist Church opened their doors for hundreds of furloughed employees who showed up there to receive a helping hand.

Senior Pastor Travis Collins says nothing is in stone but they are considering doing it again.

During the last government shutdown in 2019, the iconic First Baptist Church had hundreds of furloughed federal workers and contractors gathered and looking for ways to make it through a tough situation.

Those in need were handed gift cards, offered temporary jobs and connected with resources that helped them stay afloat.

Collins says even though Huntsville is a big city, it gave him the feeling of a small-town seeing the way people supported one another inside the church.

“I remember walking down [inside the church] earlier in the morning and thinking ‘My gosh I had no idea,’ because there were already hundreds of people lined up. The impact in our community was significant, but the response of the community was beautiful,” he said.

It’s not just federal workers who would be affected by this shutdown.

Dr. Wafa Orman, associate dean and professor at the University of Alabama in Huntsville says the shutdown would also impact families who are on federal assistance; Funding for programs like WIC would come to a halt.

Flying could be more difficult as TSA workers and air traffic controllers would be working without pay, leading some to quit or take a lot of days off. For small businesses who receive government contracts, Dr. Orman says they would lose out on funds that haven’t been paid before Saturday’s deadline.

What’s worse, she says a shutdown could impact the country’s credit rating.

“That would not be a good thing because already interest payments on our debt are eating up a non-trivial portion of our federal budget,” Dr. Orman said. “So if we need to start paying higher interest because our credit’s downgraded, then that would in turn eat up even large chunk of the federal budget.”

The shutdown will begin Sunday at midnight if Congress cannot come to an agreement.

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