Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., talks to reporters about the possibility of a partial government shutdown at the Capitol in Washington. Surrounding him, from left, are Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., the assistant Democratic leader. (J. Scott Applewhite/The Associated Press)

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., talks to reporters about the possibility of a partial government shutdown at the Capitol in Washington. Surrounding him, from left, are Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., the assistant Democratic leader. (J. Scott Applewhite/The Associated Press)

Wall battle leaves government funding in doubt; largely non-essential personnel would be affected on Peninsula, agencies say

FEDERAL WORKERS ON the North Olympic Peninsula were bracing for a partial government shutdown Thursday while officials in Washington, D.C., grappled over a funding bill.

Olympic National Park officials would not comment on how a partial shutdown at midnight tonight would affect the park.

“We are not going to speculate on any possible change in government operations,” park spokeswoman Penny Wagner said Thursday.

“National parks are open and continue to welcome visitors.”

Congress must act before a midnight Friday deadline to fund parts of the government or risk a partial shutdown just before Christmas.

President Donald Trump declared Thursday he would not sign a bill to keep funding the government because it fails to provide his requested $5 billion for a border wall with Mexico, rejecting a Senate-approved bill to fund the government through Feb. 8 — without the border wall money.

Within hours of Trump’s statement, the Republican-controlled House voted along party lines to add $5.7 billion to the stopgap spending bill, along with a nearly $8 billion disaster aid package that many lawmakers support for coastal hurricanes and California wildfires. The House was set to vote Thursday night on the overall bill.

A House vote to approve the newly expanded bill would send the package to the Senate, where its prospects are grim amid strong opposition from Democrats. Sixty votes are needed to approve the bill there.

The U.S. Department of Interior, which oversees the National Park Service, posted in January — for a shutdown at that time — contingency plans for park operations in the absence of appropriations.

“Upon a lapse in appropriations, the National Park Service will take all necessary steps to suspend all activities and secure national park facilities that operate using appropriations that are now lapsed, except for those that are essential to respond to emergencies involving the safety of human life or the protection of property,” according to the contingency plan.

“Parks must notify visitors that the NPS will cease providing visitor services, including restrooms, trash collection, facilities and roads maintenance (including plowing), campground reservation and check-in/check-out services, backcountry and other permits, and public information.”

Olympic National Forest spokeswoman Susan Garner could not be reached for comment Thursday.

A partial government shutdown would affect civilian U.S. Coast Guard employees but not search-and-rescue operations or essential personnel, said Petty Officer 1st Class Levi Read, Coast Guard District 13 spokesman.

Training flights at Coast Guard Air Station/Sector Field Office Port Angeles might be canceled if a shutdown occurs, Read said.

“Search-and-rescue teams would not be affected by that,” Read added.

A partial shutdown would not affect Naval Magazine Indian Island or other U.S. Department of Defense operations.

“Child care, and other fleet and family services would not be affected either,” Naval Magazine Indian Island officials said in a Tuesday statement.

“Budget discussions remain underway regarding funding for other federal agencies, but not Dept. of Defense/Dept. of Navy,” the written statement said.

”Should there be a shutdown of those other federal agencies, Dept. of Defense and Dept. of Navy will continue with normal operations.”

A public affairs officer at the U.S. Border Patrol Blaine Sector, which includes the Olympic Peninsula, was not immediately available for comment Thursday.

As of September, there were 532 federal employees working on the North Olympic Peninsula — 371 in Clallam County and 161 in Jefferson County.

By Thursday afternoon, Trump had announced he was not necessarily demanding a border wall but “steel slats” — which is similar to the border security fencing already provided for in the bill.

“I give them a little bit of an out, ‘steel slats,’” Trump said during a farm bill signing at the White House. “We don’t use the word ‘wall’ necessarily, but it has to be something special to do the job.”

At issue is money for nine of 15 Cabinet-level departments and dozens of agencies, including the departments of Homeland Security, Transportation, Interior, Agriculture, State and Justice, as well as national parks and forests.

Many agencies, including the Pentagon and the departments of Veterans Affairs and Health and Human Services, are covered for the year and would continue to operate as usual if funding lapses. The U.S. Postal Service, busy delivering packages for the holiday season, would not be affected by any government shutdown because it’s an independent agency.

________

Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at rollikainen@peninsuladailynews.com.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions, R-Texas, right, listens to objections by Rep. James P. McGovern, D-Mass., the top Democrat on the panel, as the Rules Committee makes revisions to the government funding bill to include $5 billion for President Donald Trump’s wall along the U.S.-Mexico border at the Capitol in Washington on Thursday. (J. Scott Applewhite/The Associated Press)

House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions, R-Texas, right, listens to objections by Rep. James P. McGovern, D-Mass., the top Democrat on the panel, as the Rules Committee makes revisions to the government funding bill to include $5 billion for President Donald Trump’s wall along the U.S.-Mexico border at the Capitol in Washington on Thursday. (J. Scott Applewhite/The Associated Press)

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