NH feeling pinch from government shutdownAP , Associated Press
Oct. 1, 2013 4:45 PM ET
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Federal facilities throughout New Hampshire were feeling the effects of the government shutdown Tuesday, from furloughed workers at military facilities to forest rangers standing down in the White Mountains.
New Hampshire Sens. Kelly Ayotte and Jeanne Shaheen joined forces to try to keep the civilian and military employees at two large installations important to the state on the job during the government shutdown.
In a letter sent Tuesday to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Ayotte, a Republican, and Shaheen, a Democrat, said the missions of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and the air refueling wing at Pease International Tradeport are vital to national security. Shaheen is the chairwoman and Ayotte the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Readiness and Management Support Subcommittee, giving them oversight of Defense Department depots and shipyards.
Hundreds of thousands of federal workers were sent home Tuesday after Congress failed to agree on a spending bill to keep government running.
The shipyard has a contingent of about 4,700 civilians.
"The need to maintain military readiness, even in a shutdown, is absolutely critical," they wrote.
New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan said she shares people's frustration over Congress's inability to avert the shutdown and said it will cause unnecessary hardship to New Hampshire families. Hassan said New Hampshire will continue to carry out the normal functions of state government, although there may be some disruption in individual programs that are not yet funded.
The governor's office said the National Guard would be among the hardest hit, lacking the funding to pay technicians and utility bills.
Lt. Col Greg Heilshorn, the public affairs officer for the Guard, said 332 members — 204 from the Army Guard and 128 from the Air Guard — have been furloughed out of a total force of 2,800. For many of the furloughed members, it's their second forced time-off this year: They had to take six unpaid days over the summer as a result of the mandatory across-the-board spending cuts.
"I would characterize the atmosphere as frustrated, angry and very unsettled," he said.
Members could tap resources such as the Chaplain's Emergency Relief Fund if the shutdown drags on, Heilshorn said.
"Certainly the stress level is going to go up," he said.
Elsewhere, the U.S. Forest Service was closed, meaning all but the most essential services were closed in the White Mountains National Forest.