(The Center Square) – Arkansas officials are preparing for a possible federal government shutdown that could put some employees out of work.
The U.S. House of Representatives has until Saturday at midnight to reach an agreement.
Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders told her cabinet members that programs deemed “necessary” by the federal government, including public health and welfare programs, will continue even if a funding agreement is not reached.
Agencies with enough funding or authorization from a current or previous federal grant could also continue, according to a news release from Sanders’ office.
But other programs wholly or partially dependent on federal funds will cease on Oct. 1.
“The federal government will not allow us to make any exceptions unless the protection of public health, safety, and welfare would be compromised, as determined by the cabinet secretary in consultation with the Department of Finance and Administration and the Department of Transformation and Shared Services,” according to the news release.
That could put some federal employees in Arkansas out of work.
“There are approximately 14,000 employees within state government with salaries funded (partially or fully) with federal dollars,” said Scott Hardin of the Department of Finance and Administration in an email to The Center Square on Thursday. “As of today, we anticipate less than 100 of those employees will be affected by a shutdown next week. However, that could change based on the length of the shutdown.”
The longest federal government shutdown was 34 days in 2019.
Sanders blamed the Biden administration for the standoff in Congress.
“The Biden Administration’s failure puts Arkansans and the programs they rely on at risk, but my administration will do everything in our power to keep the vital functions of government working. DFA – Budget and Accounting offices, along with TSS – Office of Personnel Management, will be available to assist agencies in making these determinations,” the news release said.
Arkansas Sens. Tom Cotton and John Boozman voted on a stopgap measure earlier this week that would keep the government open until mid-November. But it seems unlikely the measure will reach the House floor.
President Joe Biden said Thursday, “extreme House Republicans are playing partisan games with peoples’ lives and marching our country toward a government shutdown that would have damaging impacts across the country.”
A shutdown would put nearly 2,000 long-term disaster recovery programs at risk, including 14 in Arkansas, according to information from Biden’s office.