WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump and Congress are careening toward a partial shutdown of the federal government.
Although lawmakers are expressing hope that they can at least approve another temporary spending bill to avert closure Friday night, fears are growing that the government may partly close for the first time since a two-week shutdown in 2013.
If this round is like the one five years ago, that means Ohio's National Park Service areas would be closed. In 2013, for example, parking lots in Cuyahoga Valley National Park were blocked.
If the shutdown lasts more than a couple days, applications for passports and visas are likely to be halted.
However, the mail still is delivered, post offices remain open, the Army, Navy and Air Force operate as usual, Americans receive their Social Security checks, Medicare and Medicaid continue to function.
John Charlton, a spokesman for the Ohio Office of Budget and Management, said his agency is "monitoring the uncertain budget situation in Washington and working with state agencies to assess potential impacts that could arise in the absence of a federal budget or continuing resolution."
In the past, civilian workers were furloughed, although they were paid when the government re-opened. In 2013, 50 workers at the Defense Supply Center in Columbus were furloughed.
Daniel R. Birdsong, a University of Dayton political science lecturer, predicted that a shutdown is "unlikely because of the political question of who gets blamed for this."
"It certainly seems to be more combative and there doesn’t seem to be a lot of relationship building between the Congress and the White House on big ticket items like immigration and tax reform," he said.
The two parties are squabbling in Washington over whether to increase defense spending, find money to build a wall or increase security along the Mexican border as demanded by Trump, and an insistence by Democrats that any spending measure provide legal guarantees for the children of undocumented immigrants, a program known as the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals, or DACA.
While there appears little appetite in the Senate to shut down the government, the House is deeply divided.
A number of Republicans such as Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio are demanding more than the $549 billion for defense that is permitted by the law in the 2018 federal spending year. In return, Democrats want to spend more on domestic programs than the $516 billion allowed in 2018.
In a conference call with Ohio reporters on Tuesday, Portman said that during a private meeting last week with Senate Republicans, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis "painted a pretty dismal picture about our preparedness."
Portman said "we do have a situation right now with more and more responsibilities overseas" and "we have to have additional defense spending."
Because Republicans control the Senate, House and White House, a shutdown could imperil the party in this year’s congressional elections.
In a sign that both parties are prepared to blame the other, Blaine Kelly, a spokesman for the Ohio Republican Party, took direct aim at Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, saying "Brown would be wise not to hold military funding hostage, but instead support a common sense compromise to keep the government open."
Kelly added, "It is our hope Brown will put partisan politics aside and support a deal that funds the government and protects Americans."
Brown, who is seeking re-election to a third term in November, said "there is no reason for a government shutdown. Congress needs to come together and do its job."