HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – Lawmakers have to come to some consensus on the federal budget by 6:01 p.m. Hawaii time Friday. The battle may be going on six-thousand miles away in Washington, D.C., but here in Hawaii, agencies are already bracing for the worst.
U.S. Vets serves 250 homeless and in-need veterans everyday in Hawaii. It's funded almost entirely by the federal government. So, what happens in this budget battle will have a huge impact on operations.
Darryl Vincent, Vice-President of Programs at U.S. Vets in Hawaii says, "We will make sure, on the U.S. Vets side, to ensure that veterans are still being serviced, that we'll do like everyone else in the nation - tighten our belt and make sure we're doing the things that are needed to keep our program open until our country comes to a resolution and passes the budget."
Like veterans, many federal agencies and services could be disrupted, including visa and passport applications; the processing of paper federal tax returns; business loan applications; and national parks, monuments, and museums. The Arizona Memorial, for instance, could be closed.
Rao Thammavaram visited the Arizona Memorial on Thursday, as lawmakers were meeting at the White House with President Barack Obama. "The country can't afford to stop business for too long. Okay? And I think politicians know that."
The Office of Personnel Management in Washington says the federal government employs almost 25-thousand civilian workers in Hawaii, excluding postal workers. The postal service in Hawaii has already said it won't be affected - whether there's a shutdown or not. Other essential services will remain open and available, such as air traffic control, national security, police, public health agencies, prisons, and social security payments.
Former longtime Hawaii resident, James Harrison, says, "I think a federal government shutdown would be clearly disastrous at all levels - of our culture, society, and international positions."
As the budget showdown plays out, if a shutdown happens, those most affected are just hoping it will be a short one. We spoke to some workers at the federal building in Honolulu today who say there's a lot of concern and anxiety going around that building ... as they wait on word from Washington.