In the event of a federal government shutdown, services could...

In the event of a federal government shutdown, services could be curtailed at National Park Service sites such as Sagamore Hill in Oyster Bay, the home of President Theodore Roosevelt. Credit: Audrey C. Tiernan

WASHINGTON — If Congress does not pass a spending bill by midnight Saturday, the federal government will be forced to shut down, leaving about 46,000 federal workers on Long Island in financial limbo and causing widespread disruptions in federal services.

Longer wait times at airports, shuttered facilities at national parks such as Sagamore Hill in Oyster Bay and a halt to assistance for pregnant and postpartum mothers are among the possibilities, according to federal officials.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) negotiated a spending deal with President Joe Biden over the summer that averted a shutdown. But a faction of hard-line House conservatives have refused to vote on a short-term spending bill to keep the government open, arguing for more spending cuts including dropping military aid for Ukraine.

On Tuesday, the Senate advanced a measure negotiated by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to keep the government open through mid-November under current spending levels. But McCarthy told reporters Wednesday there was little support among House Republicans for that bill.

McCarthy, who is fighting to remain as speaker amid threats by some hard-line conservatives to vote to oust him, has opted to push for votes on four long-term appropriations bills to fund the departments of Defense, Homeland Security, State and Agriculture.

Rep. Andrew Garbarino (R-Bayport) in a statement said shutdown talks were continuing "and we are looking at several different avenues to fund the government. We must do everything possible to avoid a shutdown."

Rep. Anthony D’Esposito (R-Island Park) said in a statement he was “wholeheartedly opposed to shutting down the government," and as a member of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, was "exploring all options to keep the government open."

Rep. Nick LaLota (R-Amityville) in a statement called a shutdown "completely unnecessary and totally avoidable. Washington should reduce spending, secure the border, and keep the government open while doing so."

Rep. George Santos (R-Queens/Nassau) did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

On Long Island, federal workers, federal contractors and social service agencies were bracing Wednesday for a possible shutdown. The last shutdown stretched from Dec. 22, 2018 to Jan. 25, 2019 during the administration of former President Donald Trump.

“When we talk about a government shutdown, there’s a lot of talk about Washington, but it affects real people here on Long Island,” said Matt Cohen, president and chief executive of the Long Island Association, the region’s largest business group. “It really shouldn't come to that … Everyone has to get in the room and figure this out, because, again, real people get hurt by it.”

Following are some federal functions and services on Long Island that could be affected by a government shutdown:

More than 418,000 women and children in New York benefit from the federal Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, known as WIC, that provides financial assistance to low-income mothers to buy baby formula and other food staples. Funding for the program could be halted if a shutdown were to last longer than a few days, U.S. Department of Agriculture officials said Monday.

Both WIC and the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, or SNAP, which provides low-income enrollees with monthly stipends to purchase groceries, have contingency funds for use during a shutdown. But Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told reporters Monday the WIC contingency funds likely would run out if a shutdown lasts more than a few days.

After that, "the vast majority of WIC participants would see an immediate reduction and elimination of those benefits, which means the nutrition assistance that's provided would not be available," Vilsack said.

Paule Pachter, president and chief executive officer of Long Island Cares — The Harry Chapin Regional Food Bank, said the nonprofit has begun to inventory baby formula and baby food stock in its network of food pantries, to prepare for a possible increase in WIC recipients seeking.

“We're very concerned about the status of the moms and the babies that are going to need infant formula and baby food and other support,” Pachter told Newsday.

Pachter recalled during the 2018-2019 shutdown, the agency saw an increase in demand from furloughed federal workers.

“If we go back to the last government shutdown, it did impact families on Long Island,” Pachter said. “There were also a number of TSA employees, Homeland Security employees and Coast Guard members who were being affected by this, and we did our best to support them with food assistance.”

Vilsack said SNAP funding should last through the end of October, but warned if a shutdown runs longer, “there would be some serious consequences to SNAP.”

Veterans services, including at the Northport VA Medical Center, are expected to continue without disruption, but active-duty military such as U.S. Coast Guard members stationed on Long Island may have to work without pay and wait for back pay, officials said.

Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough told reporters last week that in the event of a shutdown “there would be no impact on Veteran health care.”

McDonough said burials would continue at VA national cemeteries and the VA would “continue to process and deliver benefits to veterans, including compensation, pension, education, and housing benefits.

McDonough said services such as career counseling likely would be halted and maintenance of cemetery grounds would be suspended.

There are more than 18,000 active-duty military personnel in New York who would be forced to work without pay until the shutdown is resolved, according to the White House.

White House officials on Tuesday warned that 1.3 million U.S. service members could face financial hardship during a shutdown.

“Nobody joins the military to get rich. You join because you love your country," said John Kirby, spokesman for the White House National Security Council. "But you have every expectation that the government is going to be able to pay a decent wage and take care of your family.”

A spokesman for the National Park Service declined to comment on the impact of a shutdown on Long Island’s national parks. But during past shutdowns, both President Theodore Roosevelt's home at Sagamore Hill in Oyster Bay and the Fire Island National Seashore experienced partial closures.

The Park Service’s shutdown contingency plan allows for parks, roads and trails to “remain accessible to visitors.” But the agency will not provide “visitor services, including restrooms, trash collection, facilities and roads maintenance (including plowing), and public information.”

A federal shutdown would force more than 3,400 air traffic controllers and more than 760 Transportation Security Administration officers in New York to work without pay until Congress passes a spending bill.

White House officials warned a shutdown could lead to widespread delays at airports, as occurred during the last government shutdown when large numbers of workers called off from work, leaving TSA checkpoints and air traffic control centers understaffed.

The State Department says in its shutdown contingency plan it would process passport applications “as the situation permits.” The department already is grappling with a backlog of applications spurred by a surge in post-pandemic travel abroad.

The IRS as of Wednesday had not released a shutdown plan, but during the 2018-19 shutdown the agency shuttered its offices on Long Island, including sites in Holtsville, Hauppauge, Westbury and Bethpage.

Officials of the union representing IRS workers, the National Treasury Employees Union, said they anticipate furloughs for some agency workers during a shutdown.

An IRS spokesman did not immediately return a request for comment on the status of Long Island offices.

Recipients of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are expected to continue receiving payments on time,  according to the Social Security Administration.

.The U.S. Postal Service would continue regular operations.

WASHINGTON — If Congress does not pass a spending bill by midnight Saturday, the federal government will be forced to shut down, leaving about 46,000 federal workers on Long Island in financial limbo and causing widespread disruptions in federal services.

Longer wait times at airports, shuttered facilities at national parks such as Sagamore Hill in Oyster Bay and a halt to assistance for pregnant and postpartum mothers are among the possibilities, according to federal officials.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) negotiated a spending deal with President Joe Biden over the summer that averted a shutdown. But a faction of hard-line House conservatives have refused to vote on a short-term spending bill to keep the government open, arguing for more spending cuts including dropping military aid for Ukraine.

On Tuesday, the Senate advanced a measure negotiated by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to keep the government open through mid-November under current spending levels. But McCarthy told reporters Wednesday there was little support among House Republicans for that bill.

WHAT TO KNOW

  • On Long Island, federal workers, federal contractors and social service agencies were bracing Wednesday for a government shutdown that could occur this weekend.
  • A federal shutdown would leave about 46,000 federal workers on Long Island in financial limbo and cause disruptions to a range of federal services.
  • Longer wait times at airports, shuttered facilities at national parks such as Sagamore Hill in Oyster Bay and a halt to assistance for pregnant and postpartum mothers could be in store, according to federal officials.

McCarthy, who is fighting to remain as speaker amid threats by some hard-line conservatives to vote to oust him, has opted to push for votes on four long-term appropriations bills to fund the departments of Defense, Homeland Security, State and Agriculture.

Rep. Andrew Garbarino (R-Bayport) in a statement said shutdown talks were continuing "and we are looking at several different avenues to fund the government. We must do everything possible to avoid a shutdown."

Rep. Anthony D’Esposito (R-Island Park) said in a statement he was “wholeheartedly opposed to shutting down the government," and as a member of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, was "exploring all options to keep the government open."

Rep. Nick LaLota (R-Amityville) in a statement called a shutdown "completely unnecessary and totally avoidable. Washington should reduce spending, secure the border, and keep the government open while doing so."

Rep. George Santos (R-Queens/Nassau) did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

On Long Island, federal workers, federal contractors and social service agencies were bracing Wednesday for a possible shutdown. The last shutdown stretched from Dec. 22, 2018 to Jan. 25, 2019 during the administration of former President Donald Trump.

“When we talk about a government shutdown, there’s a lot of talk about Washington, but it affects real people here on Long Island,” said Matt Cohen, president and chief executive of the Long Island Association, the region’s largest business group. “It really shouldn't come to that … Everyone has to get in the room and figure this out, because, again, real people get hurt by it.”

Following are some federal functions and services on Long Island that could be affected by a government shutdown:

Food assistance

More than 418,000 women and children in New York benefit from the federal Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, known as WIC, that provides financial assistance to low-income mothers to buy baby formula and other food staples. Funding for the program could be halted if a shutdown were to last longer than a few days, U.S. Department of Agriculture officials said Monday.

Both WIC and the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, or SNAP, which provides low-income enrollees with monthly stipends to purchase groceries, have contingency funds for use during a shutdown. But Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told reporters Monday the WIC contingency funds likely would run out if a shutdown lasts more than a few days.

After that, "the vast majority of WIC participants would see an immediate reduction and elimination of those benefits, which means the nutrition assistance that's provided would not be available," Vilsack said.

Paule Pachter, president and chief executive officer of Long Island Cares — The Harry Chapin Regional Food Bank, said the nonprofit has begun to inventory baby formula and baby food stock in its network of food pantries, to prepare for a possible increase in WIC recipients seeking.

“We're very concerned about the status of the moms and the babies that are going to need infant formula and baby food and other support,” Pachter told Newsday.

Pachter recalled during the 2018-2019 shutdown, the agency saw an increase in demand from furloughed federal workers.

“If we go back to the last government shutdown, it did impact families on Long Island,” Pachter said. “There were also a number of TSA employees, Homeland Security employees and Coast Guard members who were being affected by this, and we did our best to support them with food assistance.”

Vilsack said SNAP funding should last through the end of October, but warned if a shutdown runs longer, “there would be some serious consequences to SNAP.”

Military services

Veterans services, including at the Northport VA Medical Center, are expected to continue without disruption, but active-duty military such as U.S. Coast Guard members stationed on Long Island may have to work without pay and wait for back pay, officials said.

Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough told reporters last week that in the event of a shutdown “there would be no impact on Veteran health care.”

McDonough said burials would continue at VA national cemeteries and the VA would “continue to process and deliver benefits to veterans, including compensation, pension, education, and housing benefits.

McDonough said services such as career counseling likely would be halted and maintenance of cemetery grounds would be suspended.

There are more than 18,000 active-duty military personnel in New York who would be forced to work without pay until the shutdown is resolved, according to the White House.

White House officials on Tuesday warned that 1.3 million U.S. service members could face financial hardship during a shutdown.

“Nobody joins the military to get rich. You join because you love your country," said John Kirby, spokesman for the White House National Security Council. "But you have every expectation that the government is going to be able to pay a decent wage and take care of your family.”

National parks

A spokesman for the National Park Service declined to comment on the impact of a shutdown on Long Island’s national parks. But during past shutdowns, both President Theodore Roosevelt's home at Sagamore Hill in Oyster Bay and the Fire Island National Seashore experienced partial closures.

The Park Service’s shutdown contingency plan allows for parks, roads and trails to “remain accessible to visitors.” But the agency will not provide “visitor services, including restrooms, trash collection, facilities and roads maintenance (including plowing), and public information.”

Possible travel delays

A federal shutdown would force more than 3,400 air traffic controllers and more than 760 Transportation Security Administration officers in New York to work without pay until Congress passes a spending bill.

White House officials warned a shutdown could lead to widespread delays at airports, as occurred during the last government shutdown when large numbers of workers called off from work, leaving TSA checkpoints and air traffic control centers understaffed.

The State Department says in its shutdown contingency plan it would process passport applications “as the situation permits.” The department already is grappling with a backlog of applications spurred by a surge in post-pandemic travel abroad.

Internal Revenue Service

The IRS as of Wednesday had not released a shutdown plan, but during the 2018-19 shutdown the agency shuttered its offices on Long Island, including sites in Holtsville, Hauppauge, Westbury and Bethpage.

Officials of the union representing IRS workers, the National Treasury Employees Union, said they anticipate furloughs for some agency workers during a shutdown.

An IRS spokesman did not immediately return a request for comment on the status of Long Island offices.

Unaffected services

Recipients of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are expected to continue receiving payments on time,  according to the Social Security Administration.

.The U.S. Postal Service would continue regular operations.

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