Government Shutdown 2011: Shutdown could hit D.C. hard, suspend services
As the possibility of a government shutdown looms closer, D.C. Mayor Vince Gray and his staff are working to develop a contingency plan.
The District of Columbia is treated as a federal agency – and is not permitted to spend its own money during a shut down.
Del. Eleanor Norton Holmes (D-Washington, D.C.) told ABC7 this morning that she has tried to get Congress to approve a provision that would allow D.C. to continue to operate, but she’s not making much headway. She says the District's operating budget of $5 billion has been federally approved for quite some time and the city should have access to those funds.
In the event of a government shutdown, all Department of Motor Vehicles offices would close, as would the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs and public libraries.
Street sweeping would cease, as would most parking enforcement. Garbage collection would be suspended until one week after the shutdown ends, according to Gray.
In many instances, road repair and construction projects would be put on hold, although a spokesperson for DDOT tells ABC7 that today the agency is trying to determine which projects would have to completely shut down and which may be able to continue to operate.
Local road repair and pothole filling would most certainly be put on hold, says the DDOT spokesperson. It’s possible that the construction work on Pennsylvania Avenue, the New York Avenue bridge and the 14th Street Bridge project could be put on hold as well.
In addition to the loss of services, D.C. business owners say they’re concerned over loss of revenue. Seventy percent of business owners surveyed by the Greater Washington Board of Trade said they’re worried about a shutdown affecting their businesses. Tourism will undoubtedly drop during a peak season and it’s estimated the District could lose $1.5 to $5.5 million per week.
The Smithsonian museums and National Zoo will close if the shutdown takes place. Alice and Jerry Guillotte came to D.C. from Louisiana specifically to see the museums and are now angry that Congress’ budget impasse may ruin their vacation.
"I just wish people could get together and work out a compromise real quick because we are here for two weeks and this is what we came to see," Alice said.
"Who suffers? Us. Us the people not just the tourists," Jerry added.
Police, fire and emergency services would operate normally, as would schools and Metro – although the number of rail cars may be adjusted to conserve resources and account for an estimated 5 to 20 percent drop in ridership.
"I didn't realize until now that all the museums would be closed and the trash wouldn't be picked up. It's pretty extreme," said Rhea Destefano, a District resident.
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