Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) released the following statement on the damaging effects President Trump’s government shutdown is having on California:
“President Trump’s shutdown is now the longest in U.S. history. As it drags on, more and more Californians are feeling the harmful effects. Yet President Trump refuses to listen to reason, seemingly unable to understand the real pain his shutdown is causing.
“Thousands of federal employees in California are worried when they’ll receive their next paycheck. Low-income families are concerned they’ll be unable to pay rent or put food on their table if housing and food assistance run out. Left uncared for, our national parks are being vandalized and filling with trash and human waste. And right when we should be working to aggressively prevent another catastrophic wildfire, most fire prevention efforts have been halted on federal land.
“All of this fear and uncertainty could end if President Trump would just drop his unreasonable demand for a useless border wall. Democrats have repeatedly offered to let the rest of the government reopen while we continue negotiations over stronger border security measures.
“The House has passed bipartisan legislation to that effect, voting to temporarily reopen the Department of Homeland Security and fully funding the rest of the government. Unfortunately, Leader McConnell won’t allow a vote in the Senate even though Senate Republicans have supported these same exact bills in the past.
“It’s becoming increasingly clear that President Trump is incapable of grasping the reality of the situation. We can’t wait for him anymore, too many Californian lives depend on it. It’s time for Senate Republicans to join us and vote to reopen the government before the president’s shutdown causes more harm.”
Government Shutdown Effects on California
- Federal workers furloughed or working without pay: California is home to more than 170,000 federal employees. Approximately 40,000 have been furloughed or are working without pay during the government shutdown.
- Tax refund delays: Only 12 percent of IRS employees are currently working during the shutdown, which could lead to significant delays processing tax returns heading into tax season. An IRS processing center in Fresno, which employees 5,200 people, is mostly shut down. The center processes tax returns for California and several other Western states. Last year, 13,762,053 Californians received an average refund of $2,912.
- Damage to national parks: Some national parks in California have remained opened but understaffed during the shutdown, leading to significant damage to the parks, sanitation and health concerns, and multiple deaths.
- Joshua Tree National Park: Joshua trees have been cut down or vandalized to create an illegal road through a pristine section of the park, historical objects have been stolen, human waste has overflowed public toilets and hiking has occurred outside of designated trails, endangering the hikers and sensitive habitats.
- Yosemite National Park: One park visitor died on Christmas Day. The investigation into his death has been delayed due to the shutdown.
- Point Reyes National Seashore: There have been reports of harassment of elephant seals during their breeding season. Also, a build-up in human waste has forced Marin County to pay to clean the bathrooms due to unsanitary conditions.
- Wildfire prevention efforts stalled: As California continues to recover from the deadliest and most destructive wildfires in state history, the Forest Service, which manages 60 percent of California’s forests, has suspended most wildfire prevention efforts.
- Food assistance in jeopardy: USDA has said food assistance for low-income families, including assistance for the 4.1 million Californians who receive CalFresh benefits, could run out after February. The department also stated child nutrition programs, including school meals and after-school programs, may have enough funding to last through March.
- Small business can’t receive new loans: The Small Business Administration is no longer processing new loans that are vital to local economies. In January 2018, California small businesses received $409 million in SBA loans, supporting 7,415 jobs.