New Mexico braces for government shutdown

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A federal government shutdown is looming over Capitol Hill, and it doesn’t look like Republicans and Democrats will strike a deal any time soon. That means millions of federal employees will be furloughed – tens of thousands who live in our state.

Even those who don’t rely on Uncle Sam for a paycheck will feel the impact in other ways. Anyone who relies on many federal agencies, like seniors or veterans, will not have essential services or payments until a budget gets passed.

The federal buildings in downtown Albuquerque were busy Monday afternoon. But if a federal budget is not passed in just days, their doors will stay closed for the foreseeable future.

“We are days away from a government shutdown because right-wing Republicans are holding the government hostage,” Rep. Gabe Vasquez said.

That sentiment is shared by many of our Democratic representatives in Congress. Neither Congressman Gabe Vasquez nor Congresswoman Melanie Stansbury are confident anything will be passed by the deadline.

“What we can expect this week is continued dysfunction within the republican conference which is driving us to the shutdown at the end of the week,” Rep. Stansbury said Monday.

Politics aside – a shutdown would impact a good number of New Mexicans in a variety of ways.

Of course, those who get federal payments of some sort or those with federal jobs – but also folks who are just trying to travel.

“It would affect every aspect of the federal government everybody from social security recipients to veterans to people looking for passports—even our national parks would be shut down so in my district so Carlsbad Caverns, White Sands National Park they will all be shut down so that will actually affect the local economies of those areas like Carlsbad, Alamogordo, and Las Cruces,” Vasquez said.

“The impacts are really real not being able to pay your mortgage payment not being able to buy groceries you might have to ask for help from somebody to get you through the month. We know many New Mexicans are living paycheck to paycheck,” Stansbury added.

518,800 New Mexico residents, or around a quarter of the state’s population, gets SNAP benefits.

KOB 4 spoke to some federal workers in the metro about the potential shutdown. None wanted to go on camera – but many said they’re just trying to get work done this week.  They’re looking forward to any back pay they would get once a shutdown ends.

But Vasquez says there’s no telling when that would happen or what a deal would look like.

“Speaker McCarthy truly wants to keep his job and I think he is willing to give up a lot to do that what that’s going to look like is a mystery,” Vasquez said.

On Sunday night, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy told NBC News he is confident the house will get something passed.

“I think we will be able to work through this and at the end of the day get there,” Speaker McCarthy said.

If the government does shut down Rep. Stansbury says she doesn’t expect our national labs to close their doors because they are mostly contract workers, but if the shutdown continues long enough those contracts could also be impacted.