A partial shutdown of the federal government would hit Maryland hard, Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) warned on Thursday.
His comments came as talks between congressional leaders and the White House appeared to reach an impasse, with President Trump digging in on his demand for $5 billion for a wall on the Southern border, and GOP leaders in the House and Senate unable to deliver the necessary votes.
The House voted last night to approve a spending deal that included the $5 billion, while the Senate had voted for a deal without the border wall allocation. Senate leaders in both parties have said the $5 billion will not get through the upper chamber.
While a last-minute deal is still possible, most observers believe that the window for an agreement — most likely a short-term continuing resolution — is rapidly closing and that approximately one-quarter of the government is likely to shut down at midnight Friday.
“It’s a tremendous impact on Maryland,” Hogan told State House reporters on Thursday. “On a per capita basis, Maryland is impacted, I believe, more than any other state.”
Hogan said it’s not known how many of the affected federal workers live in Maryland. For those who are, the timing of the forced furloughs — at the Christmas holiday — would be difficult. He said the state “is preparing to provide whatever… kind of benefits and assistance those employees might need.”
“We’re calling on the leaders in Washington to get their act together and get this resolved, and hopefully cooler heads will prevail,” the governor said.
“Now it’s going to be probably up to the president to come to his senses.”
According to Governing magazine, 26,474 federal employees work in Maryland at agencies that would be impacted by the failure to fund the government beyond Friday night. Some of these employees live outside the state. And of course, there many thousands of federal personnel who live in Maryland and work in offices in Washington, D.C., or Northern Virginia.
The 26,474 figure includes “essential” personnel who won’t get paid until after a deal is struck and “non-essential” workers who will only get paid after their agencies are funded and if Congress approves back-pay legislation.
“Dedicated federal employees should not be a pawn in this battle in Washington,” Hogan said. “It’s the same kind of dysfunction that we’ve been seeing for a long time.”
Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said outgoing House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) holds the keys to resolving the stalemate.
“We had a bipartisan vote in the Senate to keep the government open,” he said on Twitter. “In his final days, Speaker Ryan must do the right thing and let democracy work its will. House Republicans should not be minions of Trump, scampering down to the White House. Pass the bill and stop the shutdown!”
Rep. Anthony G. Brown (D-Md.) said a shutdown would be “shameful [and] wrong.”
“Thousands of Marylanders could be furloughed or be forced to work without pay over the holidays — including scientists at Goddard Space Flight Center, park rangers at Fort McHenry, food inspectors at the FDA, and customs and border agents at the Port of Baltimore,” he said.
Brown called the president’s push for a border wall “immoral, ineffective and expensive.”
An email seeking comment from Rep. Andrew P. Harris, the state’s only Republican lawmaker, was not returned on Thursday.