SIOUX CITY – Iowa National Guardsmen and other federal employees in Sioux City and across the area undoubtedly were paying close attention to a deal in the U.S. Senate Monday that could end the federal government shutdown.
With promises of a Senate vote on a measure that would provide temporary government funding and reopen government offices scheduled for Monday afternoon, workers told to stay home Monday could be returning to their jobs as early as Tuesday.
With lawmakers unable to reach a deal to end the shutdown over the weekend, Monday was the first day since the shutdown went into effect Saturday that many federal offices would have been open.
At the 185th Air Refueling Wing, Iowa Air National Guard, 240 technicians classified as “nonessential” were furloughed, though many of them have scheduled days off on Monday, said Master Sgt. Vince DeGroot, public affairs superintendent at the Sioux City air base.
The furloughs would affect “pretty much every area” on the base, DeGroot said.
Guard members in security and safety details will continue to report for work, DeGroot said, and 185th members currently deployed will continue on their missions.
More than 900 full-time Iowa National Guard employees statewide will be furloughed, including workers at the 185th, the Iowa Army National Guard 113th Cavalry and the Field Maintenance Shop in Sioux City, said public affairs officer Col. Greg Hapgood.
“Certainly, it will have an impact on their operations in Sioux City,” Hapgood said.
More than 1,000 full-time National Guard employees remain on duty and will continue to work in an upaid status until Congress passes a spending resolution ending the shutdown, Hapgood said.
The federal building in Sioux City was closed Monday because of the blizzard that hit the area. Had it been open, offices for Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst and U.S. Rep. Steve King would have been closed.
Federal court proceedings were canceled Monday because of the weather, but are expected to operate as normal during the shutdown. Robert Phelps, clerk of U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa, said the federal court system would operate on funding that was held back prior to the shutdown.
“We can survive about three weeks,” Phelps said.
If the shutdown lasts longer than that, local federal court offices would be advised by the administrative office of U.S. courts on how to proceed, Phelps said.
The U.S. Marshals Service, FBI and other federal law enforcement agencies were not subject to the furlough because their officers provide security and are performing ongoing investigations.
According to national news reports, some federal attractions and parks were to remain open during the shutdown, while others may be closed.
The Lewis and Clark Visitors Center operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Gavins Point Dam near Yankton, South Dakota, is normally closed during winter months, though staff members do open for programs for schools or other groups.
It’s unclear if the shutdown would have any effect on the center’s annual Bald Eagle Days event, scheduled for Friday through Sunday.
A bipartisan deal reached Monday broke a filibuster in the Senate that had blocked passage of a GOP stopgap measure to fund the government. The House had approved the continuing resolution.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's commitment Monday to quickly tackle the issue of immigrant "Dreamers" was contingent on Democrats providing enough votes now for a stopgap spending measure lasting a little less than three weeks. The measure needed 60 votes, and Democrats provided 33 of the 81 it received. Eighteen senators, including members of both parties, were opposed.
Before the government can reopen the Senate later Tuesday had to give it final passage. The House must approve in turn, and President Donald Trump must sign the measure.