September 23, 2023

With some conservative lawmakers calling a federal authorities shutdown on the finish of September “inevitable,” Republican Normal Meeting candidates in Virginia might find yourself coping with the fallout.

Whereas this fall’s races for all 140 seats within the state Home and Senate are the political focus in Virginia in the meanwhile, a looming federal authorities catastrophe might shift the panorama dramatically all the way in which down the poll.

Except Congressional Republicans and Pres. Joe Biden agree on a spending plan earlier than Sept. 30, the federal authorities will shut down resulting from lack of funding.

Whereas the blame for such a unbelievable failure will probably fall on the Republicans who management the U.S. Home, federal officeholders have a complete yr to hope that constituencies harmed by the shutdown will neglect the entire fiasco, since none will probably be up for reelection earlier than November 2024.

Republicans on the poll this fall in Virginia, alternatively, face a considerably completely different calculus.

Not solely are Virginia’s elections lower than two months away, but additionally early voting begins on Sept. 22 – simply eight days earlier than the federal authorities might shut down.

Moreover, Virginia would endure an outsized impression from such a shutdown.

Virginia is second solely to California by way of residents holding federal jobs; particularly, 144,000 residents of the commonwealth obtain their paychecks from the U.S. authorities, in line with the U.S. Workplace of Personnel Administration (though a current congressional report places that quantity at 170,000). Virginia can also be first amongst all 50 states in army spending, with a lot of that funding divided between the Pentagon in Northern Virginia and Naval Station Norfolk in Hampton Roads. Each areas are dwelling to key swing seats in November’s legislative elections.

Previous authorities shutdowns have had obvious affect on Virginia’s odd-year elections. In October 2013, the federal authorities shut down for 16 days in October; three weeks later, not solely did Terry McAuliffe win the governor’s race, however he additionally led the primary Democratic sweep for the commonwealth’s prime three places of work since 1989. A 35-day shutdown – the longest ever – that bled into January 2019 could have tarnished the GOP’s picture sufficient that yr to assist propel Democrats to majority management of the state Home and Senate for the primary time in over 20 years.

“If you happen to’re a Republican, the very last thing you need to see is a federal authorities shutdown within the midst of a legislative marketing campaign or a congressional marketing campaign,” former GOP Lt. Gov. Invoice Bolling advised the Richmond Occasions-Dispatch. “These items usually play out to the detriment of Republicans, who’re seen because the social gathering of shutdowns.”

Some Democrats who aren’t on the poll this yr (however will probably be in 2024) try to finish authorities shutdowns as soon as and for all.

Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine and Rep. Don Beyer (VA-08) are responding to the looming menace to their constituents’ livelihoods by reintroducing the “Finish Shutdowns Act,” a invoice that will stop future shutdowns by robotically persevering with federal authorities funding on Oct. 1 of a given yr if no appropriations invoice has handed by that date. It might additionally stop the U.S. Senate from shifting ahead with any non-emergency laws till Congress reaches a long-term spending settlement.

“Authorities shutdowns have disastrous penalties for federal staff and authorities contractors and decelerate essential authorities companies that thousands and thousands of Individuals depend on like getting substitute Social Safety playing cards and meals inspections. However politicians proceed to make use of or threaten to make use of authorities shutdowns as a negotiating tactic,” mentioned Kaine. “That is unacceptable.”

Whereas the results of the federal government shutdown will probably be felt extra acutely within the federal job-rich areas of Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads, Virginians all throughout the state will really feel a few of the sting. 

Rep. Jennifer Wexton (VA-10), whose Northern Virginia district contains the houses and workplaces of 1000’s of federal staff, laid out a few of the impacts on Virginia past furloughing federal employees, which embody:

  • Disruptions to personal sector enterprise operations – Companies might see loans, mortgage purposes, export licenses, federal contracts, and entry to essential enterprise information considerably delayed or decreased.
  • Jeopardizing essential federal advantages – Authorities help packages may very well be disrupted, growing hardship for 850,000 Virginians who depend on Supplemental Vitamin Help Program (SNAP), over 120,000 Virginians who obtain month-to-month Particular Supplemental Vitamin Program for Ladies, Infants, and Kids (WIC) advantages, in addition to different Virginians who obtain advantages from federal packages.
  • Impacts on journey and tourism – Furloughs and pay freezes for TSA and air visitors controllers (who’re federal staff) might imply longer strains at safety checkpoints at Virginia airports, flight delays, delayed passport processing, in addition to restricted entry to any of Virginia’s 22 nationwide parks.