York County residents would feel the effect if the federal government is forced to shut down Oct. 1, and paychecks for local federal workers could be among the casualties.
Disabled York veterans applying for benefits could also have to wait for their government money, Sen. Robert Casey Jr., D-Pa., said in a news conference held Thursday to discuss the effects of the shutdown on Pennsylvania.
Casey said the shutdown would hurt the economy and the middle class families waiting for their paychecks, and it's "really insulting" that disabled veterans would have to wait for benefits because politicians "are acting like a third-grader and engaged in an ideological stunt."
There are 23,900 civilian federal workers and 31,000 service members in the state, he said, and the effects of the shutdown would be felt in local economies as well as the national economy.
What's at stake: Casey said the shutdown could delay loans administered by the Small Business Administration, which cuts more than 1,000 loan checks per week. Law enforcement could also suffer as agencies such as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives experience processing delays, he said.
Social Security checks would continue to be processed and mailed. Veterans hospitals would continue to operate, Casey said, but national parks and some national offices would be closed.
The U.S. Postal Service
would continue to operate under normal hours because it's a self-funded independent agency, with possible exceptions for post offices located inside federal office buildings, said Ray Daiutolo Sr., a Postal Service spokesman.
County services: The shutdown could affect the county government in different ways, depending on its duration and which funding streams come to a halt, said county spokesman Carl Lindquist.
Most of the millions of dollars in federal money that comes to the county is funneled through the state.
If all federal funding were to be eliminated, the state could choose to backfill the money to the counties using its reserves, Lindquist said.
"So they would use their reserve to temporarily give the counties money until Congress and the president agree on a budget," he said.
This would have no effect on the county.
But if the state doesn't backfill all lost money or doesn't backfill at all, the county could operate for at least "several weeks," pulling from its $9 million reserve, with no effect to county operations, Lindquist said.
If the shutdown continued past several weeks with no support from the state or another agency, the county would have to make programmatic changes, focusing on saving core "life-safety" programs and cutting peripheral programs, he said.
The last shutdown, which began in December 1995, lasted three weeks.
Prisoners: President York County Commissioner Steve Chronister said a federal shutdown could affect the York County Prison, where the county is paid a daily per-prisoner rate for federal immigration detainees.
Human Services relies on some federal funding, as does Pleasant Acres Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, he said.
Federal sources haven't briefed county officials on the possible fallout, he said.
"We have no idea," he said. "We're like anybody else sitting in front of their TV sets. These guys need to stop politicking and do what's best for the American people."
Warden Mary Sabol said she meets regularly with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, but they haven't discussed the potential shutdown's impact on the 750 prisoners being held in York. She said it's probably safe to assume the government would need the prison to continue to hold the prisoners, for which it's paid $83 per day per inmate.
Earlier this year, county officials had concerns about lost money because the population of federal detainees dropped because of the federal sequester.
But Commissioner Chris Reilly, who served on the board during the last government shutdown, said he doesn't recall a noticeable impact on any county services.
"All I remember is we had a friend in from Australia and couldn't go to Gettysburg because the park was closed," he said.
Background: The Republican-controlled House of Representatives, including Rep. Scott Perry, R-York County, last week passed a resolution that keeps the government funded through the middle of December.
That bill, however, would also defund the Affordable Care Act, making it highly unpalatable for President Barack Obama and the Democratic-controlled Senate.
While Casey supports so-called Obamacare, Pennsylvania's other senator, Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., has said he wouldn't pass a spending bill to prevent shutdown unless it includes repealing a medical devices tax that helps fund Obamacare.
-- Reach Christina Kauffman at email@example.com.