Thousands of senior citizens and military families as well as small businesses and national park service sites in Massachusetts could be put in limbo if the federal government ceased to function Tuesday due to funding disputes over President Barack Obama's health care law.
About 29,000 federal employees in Massachusetts could be furloughed, according to Giselle Barry, a spokeswoman for U.S. Senator Ed Markey, who last week released an analysis warning against a government shut down.
"It is not a good option, particularly for Massachusetts," said Barry. "Hundreds of thousands of residents would have services and benefits shut off, and it would impact military members, and small business loans. It would certainly be noticeable."
Unless the two branches of Congress come together by midnight Tuesday, much of the federal government will cease to be funded and essentially shut down until a spending bill is passed.
According to Markey's analysis, nearly 1.2 million recipients of social security in Massachusetts could be denied services because of the shutdown, and applications for new benefits would be delayed.
Furthermore, 25,000 military members and their families could have their pay delayed, and college students could be without their loans as long as the government is closed. Any extended shutdown may also impact the roughly 198,000 residents who receive help from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick told yesterday called the idea of a shutdown "foolish."
“A government shutdown is an avoidable and foolish thing, and I hope that the hard right gets responsible before the end of the day,” Patrick said. Asked what the implications would be next year, an election year, Patrick said, “I hope that there are consequences for it. But I don’t know. American politics is still something I’m learning.”
In addition to its financial effects, a shut down would also close 18 national parks and historic sites across the state, including Boston's Faneuil Hall, John F. Kennedy’s birthplace, and the Adams National Historical Park.
“You’ll find padlocks on the doors to the monuments,” said Sean Hennessey, public affairs officer for the Boston National Historic Park. He said the Boston office employs about 100 people and all but about 15 staff, generally law enforcement, would be furloughed in the event of a federal government shutdown.
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