As the partial shutdown of the federal government stretches into its second week with no end in sight, it appears Mineral County has largely escaped the impact of the shutdown.
No civilian employees were furloughed because of the shutdown at the Hawthorne Army Depot, said Linda Loebach, public affairs specialist for Joint Munitions Command, the arm of the Department of Defense that oversees the Hawthorne Army Depot.
Loebach said there were some furloughs of government employees at the base for the first week of the shutdown, but she didn’t know how many people were impacted. She also said JMC is preparing a report about the impacts of the shutdown for the Secretary of the Army, John McHugh, but she wasn’t sure when it would be done.
Loebach went on to say civilian employees shouldn’t expect to see an interruption in pay. Employees should also expect to stay at work and be paid throughout the shutdown.
Many of those employees returned to work Monday.
The base’s main phone line had been set to go straight to voice mail on Friday, with a message saying the base was closed because of the partial shutdown. On Monday the line worked again and Lt. Col. Craig Short, commander of the HWAD, was taking calls.
The Department of Defense announced on Oct. 5 it would recall many of its furloughed workers and non-active duty military employees. In total, the Department of Defense furloughed 400,000 civilian employees. All but 50,000 of them have been called back to work.
The department was able to recall its workers because of the Pay our Military Act, a law passed earlier this year that gives Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel the authority to pay Department of Defense employees even in the event of a shutdown.
“We have tried to exempt as many [Department of Defense] civilian personnel as possible from furloughs. We will continue to try to bring all civilian employees back to work as soon as possible,” Hagel said in a news release. “Ultimately, the surest way to end these damaging and irresponsible furloughs, and to enable us to fulfill our mission as a department, is for Congress to pass a budget and restore funds for the entire federal government.”
In the same news release Hagel went on to say the departments of defense and justice spent last week working together to figure out how many and which contractors could be recalled.
It’s also unclear how the Bureau of Indian Affairs was impacted by the shutdown—there was nobody to answer the phones at the bureau, nor did anyone respond to an email requesting information about the bureau’s operation during the shutdown.
About half of its 4,133 employees were furloughed, a plan released by the Bureau of Indian Affairs for a shutdown shows.
The plan, which lists the essential services and functions of the agency, does not mention payments.
The silence from the Bureau of Indian Affairs shows one of the difficulties gauging the impact of the shutdown on the county. Most of the government’s public affairs officers — the points of contact between the media and governmental entities — have been furloughed.
All in about 400,000 civilian employees of the federal government, about 20 percent of the total workforce, have been furloughed.
The original furloughs put 800,000 employees out of work, but about half of those are employed by the Department of Defense.
As the shutdown continues into its second week, it’s unclear when the remaining government employees will be called back to work. On Monday, neither side showed much interest in even talking.
But, the political wrangling will certainly continue.
Steven Horsford’s office (D-NV) spent much of last week sending out a flurry of press releases about the impact of the shutdown, and his efforts to push a funding bill through the House of Representatives.
“House Republicans have failed to govern responsibly,” he said in a news release. “I am joining my fellow House Democrats to demand a vote to end the shutdown and reopen our government so furloughed Nevadans can get back to work.”
Horsford, the congressman who represents Mineral County, also said earlier he will donate his pay to Nevada’s Head Start Association and Three Square, Southern Nevada’s only food bank providing food assistance to the residents in Lincoln, Nye, Esmeralda and Clark counties.
“It is heartbreaking to hear that hard-working Nevadans in my district are being sent home without pay because House Republicans are incapable of governing responsibly,” said Horsford in the news release. “It is especially troubling to know that children in my state are being hurt by the shutdown because Head Start centers are struggling and food assistance programs are being threatened. I am donating my paycheck to help working families hurt by Republican dysfunction.”
Horsford, like all congressmen, makes $3,346.15 each week.