A partial shutdown of federal operations, prompted by a political deadlock over spending authority that expired at midnight Friday, is unlikely to have immediate effects in Oregon — but only if it lasts a few days.
The shutdown will affect about 7,400 of an estimated 28,000 federal employees in Oregon who do not work in jobs deemed "essential" or who do not work in self-funded agencies, such as the Postal Service. About half the state's total federal workers are employed in the three metro Portland counties.
Depending on the budget of their specific agency, those workers will go on unpaid furlough and it will be up to Congress to decide whether they are paid after spending authority is renewed. (Congress has paid those employees retroactively, most recently after a 2013 shutdown that lasted 19 days.)
Other employees will remain on the job, but will be paid only after spending authority is renewed.
Negotiations continued in Congress over the weekend after an impasse was reached Friday night in the Senate, which failed to clear for debate a House-passed bill to extend spending authority until Feb. 16.
On the 50-49 procedural vote, which required a majority of 60 for passage, Oregon's Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley joined all but five Democrats against the motion. All but five of 50 Republicans voted for the motion; one Republican was absent.
Both parties were blaming the other for forcing the shutdown.
Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky had floated an alternative with a Feb. 8 expiration. But Wyden said Democrats want a shorter extension to force deadlines on Republican congressional majorities — and President Donald Trump — to reach decisions about the budget and other issues, including protection from deportation for 800,000 "dreamers," young undocumented immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children. (About 11,000 are in Oregon.)
"Something like that (Feb. 8 deadline) is a prescription for trouble," Wyden said.
What Oregon senators said
Wyden's statement on his vote:
"Instead of coming to the table and working on bipartisan solutions for dreamers, kids on CHIP and natural disasters like wildfires, Republican leaders insisted on a cruel partisan agenda that failed children at every turn and left our country weaker. I hope they set aside this ideological course and work to reopen the government and solve these pressing problems."
"President Trump and most Congressional Republicans are choosing to shut down the government rather than agree to a bipartisan deal. President Trump has been rooting for a shutdown and now he's got it. This Trump shutdown isn't a reality TV show — it's going to have actual consequences for the economy and America's families, small businesses, military, and kids will pay the price. It's time for the Republican Congress and the president to do their jobs and take the bipartisan deal in front of them."
What Democratic reps said
The 230-197 vote Thursday in the House also fell largely along party lines, with only six Democrats for it and 11 Republicans against. it Oregon's lone Republican member, Greg Walden, voted yes; the four Democrats — three whose districts take in the Portland metro area — voted no.
Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, D-Beaverton:
"Republicans have had control of Congress and the White House for a year, and they are going from crisis to crisis. Our country needs certainty, not waiting until the last moment to fund the government. This short stopgap spending measure has little chance of passage in the Senate. It's time for the Republicans to stop the political posturing and get to work keeping the government open for the long term, protecting Dreamers, and funding children's health insurance and community health centers. Enough is enough."
Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Portland:
"Republicans have complete control of our government — the White House, the Senate, and the House. This is their shutdown.
"It was Donald Trump who decided to throw Dreamers in limbo. It was Congressional Republicans who refused to reauthorize the Children's Health Insurance Program when it expired last fall. These are bipartisan issues. If Republican leadership had the courage to allow a vote on our bipartisan bills that would fix these issues, they would pass overwhelmingly.
"Democrats don't want a shutdown. Republicans should stop holding the American people hostage — and work with us."
Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Canby:
"At this point, we've surpassed a lack of leadership; this isn't even governing. I wouldn't expect a student government to operate this way, let alone the government of the most powerful nation in the world. To call this embarrassing would be an understatement.
"We have programs that provide life-or-death services that ran out of funding over 100 days ago. We're allowing 122 young people daily who have been educated here, who are working in our communities and paying taxes to fall into limbo. You want to talk about our federal dollars? Losing these young people from our workforce is going to cost us $460.3 billion from our national gross domestic product over the next decade. "Meanwhile, we're blindly throwing more money at an already bloated defense budget that has zero guarantee of ensuring our courageous servicemen and women are going to get all of the resources they need.
"Leadership has had months to work out a long-term spending proposal to address these programs and craft an expansive budget that might actually create more jobs, improve our infrastructure, and promote education. Instead, all we're getting are these piecemeal, barebones, and unnecessarily politicized two-week long skeleton bills.
"I know there is a desire to pass a long-term budget to fund these programs and more. Just this morning my bipartisan, bicameral Problem Solvers colleagues and I met to come up with a better, long-term solution that leadership could easily pick up and run with. That's why I came to Congress; that's why my friends across both sides of the aisle came to Congress. What's happening now is reckless, irresponsible, embarrassing, and absolutely no way to govern."
Walden: Pass CHIP
Walden's statement took a different tack.
The House bill includes a six-year extension for the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) — the joint federal-state program that provides coverage for 9 million children, including more than 120,000 in Oregon, ineligible for Medicaid but unable to afford private coverage.
Walden leads the House committee, Energy and Commerce, that deals with health insurance.
Walden called on Democratic Gov. Kate Brown, who leads a relevant committee of the National Governors Association, to urge governors to press senators to pass the House bill.
"Under my leadership, Republicans in the House have repeatedly passed full funding for CHIP, and the proposal — defeated by Democrats in the Senate last night (Friday) — funded CHIP for six years at the biggest funding levels, ever. Oregon kids need the Governor's support at this critical time."
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