BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The failure to come to an agreement in Washington, D.C. is having an impact on the Baltimore area. Several federal buildings and sites are closed during the government shutdown and will remain that way until a deal is reached between Democrats and Republicans.
The gates of Fort McHenry, which is part of the National Park Service have been locked since Saturday. Visitors were greeted by a sign notifying them that the park is closed during the government shutdown.
The closure is just one example of how the political stalemate in the nation’s capital is impacting the region.
The shutdown also means thousands of federal employees will be placed on furlough. Those employees will not report to work on Monday and will not be paid.
Government contractors and organizations that rely on federal dollars are feeling the pinch.
“We work at Hopkins and we got this long e-mail. A lot of our funding comes from the government. The longer the
government is shut down, it’s going to affect our research,” Johns Hopkins University Researcher Samata Kakkad said.
Economist Anirban Basu says the Baltimore area is especially vulnerable.
“We have a lot of federal workers who work in the region, and many who live in the region, and this would be quite an interruption to their routine,” Basu said.
Essential services like Social Security will continue to be funded even if some agency employees are not paid.
The U.S. Postal Service, which does not rely on federal funds, will continue to operate and delver mail as usual.
As the stand-off in Washington continues, both sides blame each other.
“When you are in the majority, when you have the House, when you have the president, and when you have the Senate and you can’t get the votes to keep our government moving — that’s a basic job,” Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger said.
With no signs of a breakthrough in sight, the chances of Baltimore and the country bouncing back depends on how long the shutdown lasts.
“The shutdown in 1995-1996 lasted a couple of weeks. The one in 2013 lasted 2 or 3 weeks. If this one lasts a couple weeks, then it could cost the U.S. economy billions of dollars,” Basu said.
People expecting refunds or waiting to hear back from the IRS on an existing audit or other tax matters may be impacted by the Washington gridlock.
Some are calling on lawmakers to remember who they serve.
“You have to think about the people it’s affecting, not just who to blame,” Michelle Barrett of Baltimore said. “Get it together and come up with a solution. It’s affecting everyone.”