A return to normalcy at Shaw, nation: Government shutdown reopens after 3 days


While day-to-day operations throughout Sumter County were largely unscathed by the federal government shutting down for three days amid Congressional dysfunction on passing a spending measure, Shaw Air Force Base did see some affects closures.

All non-essential civilian employees at the Sumter base were furloughed, which means they were placed on a "temporary non-duty, non-pay status because there is a lapse in appropriations," according to Lt. Alannah Staver, chief of public affairs for the 20th Fighter Wing at Shaw.

"When the government shuts down, activities that are not expressly authorized by statute, necessary to discharge presidential powers or considered necessary for the safety of human life and protection of property, including operations essential to our national security, are discontinued and the civilians employed to accomplish these functions are furloughed until an appropriation bill or Continuing Resolution is enacted."

Congress sped toward reopening the government Monday, as Senate Democrats dropped their objections to a temporary funding bill in return for assurances from Republican leaders that they will soon take up immigration and other contentious issues, The Associated Press reported.

At Shaw, active duty military and essential civilian personnel continued to perform their duties "without pay until Congress makes appropriated funds available to compensate them for this period of service," Staver said.

While certain on-base support facilities, such as the library and Community Activity Center, were closed or provided limited services during the shutdown, the impact on day-to-day operations at Shaw were minimal, according to Staver.

Emergency support provided by Shaw first responders and defense support to civil authorities in response to disasters or other threats to human life continued as normal. All departmental community and public outreach events were stopped, including any flyovers, aerial demonstrations, military band performances, tours and ceremonial demonstrations.

"While daily operations will continue as normal," Staver said before the vote on Monday, "it is distressing our civilian teammates suffer furlough again [a shut down occurred in 2013]. A government shutdown causes serious uncertainty and will have severe and disruptive financial effect on an already stressed workforce or civilian airmen."

Military members who were not subjected to furlough had to continue performing their duties while not receiving pay for those three days.

Senate Republic leader Mitch McConnell's commitment to quickly tackle the issue of immigrant "Dreamers" was contingent on Democrats providing enough votes now for a stopgap spending measure lasting a little less than three weeks. The Associated Press reported the measure needed 60 votes, and Democrats provided 33 of the 81 it got. Eighteen senators, including members of both parties, were opposed.

Neither of Sumter's U.S. senators, though, were among the 18.

Both Sen. Lindsey Graham and Sen. Tim Scott voted to end the shutdown. Graham was the one who proposed the legislation on Friday night after consulting with a group of bipartisan senators.

"Ending the government shutdown stops the losing for the country. But it's not winning. Winning is solving the nation's problems," The Republican senator said in a statement Monday. "Winning is ensuring we have the funding needed for our military to meet the tremendous challenges they face. Nothing means more to me than making sure we take care of our military's needs as they fight a war we can't afford to lose. Today, we took a giant step forward in that direction."

Graham also mentioned the need to deal with the expiration of DACA, "as these young people know no other home than the United States."

"I believe the process we have created will allow us to get a result on these and other important issues. I enjoyed working with my colleagues - on both sides of the aisle - as we searched for breakthroughs that would not only keep the government running, but ultimately make it work for the American people."

Sen. Scott was not as complimentary toward Democrats.

"Unfortunately, my colleagues on the left side chose to play a political game that caused the Schumer Shutdown, jeopardizing health care for million of vulnerable children and funding for our brave men and women in uniform," he said in his statement. "Senate Democrats have finally made the right decision to end their political game and reopen the government - finding a permanent solution for Dreamers is an important but unrelated issue."

To reopen the government, the Senate must vote on final passage, which the House must then approve. President Donald Trump must then sign the measure. The House approved the bill 266-150. Among the congressmen who voted to end the shutdown were Sumter's U.S. Rep. Ralph Norman, R-05.

U.S. House Assistant Democratic Leader James E. Clyburn, also a Sumter congressman, opposed the Continuing Resolution.

"Republicans are refusing to five aid and comfort to those Americans who are suffering through no faulty of their own due to natural disasters that have occurred in multiple places in this country," he said in a statement Monday evening. "Rather than another stopgap half-measure, the American people deserve the security and certainty of a long-term budget that puts their well-being first and foremost."

The measure was sent to Trump's desk Monday evening.