BELLE CHASSE, La. - A partial government shutdown would affect thousands of people in the metro area.
From civilian employees on military bases to workers in national parks, thousands could see furloughs or pay delays.
Ross Heffington is bracing for tough times. A military veteran, he currently works as a civilian mechanic at the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Belle Chasse.
And he's among hundreds of thousands of federal employees who will be out of work until Congress agrees on how to pay the country's bills.
“Losing my job basically or the money that comes from the job, it sucks all that up to where we don't have extra money or even enough to make bills,” said Heffington, who is putting two children through college. “Some of our bills may or may not get paid. A lot of people live paycheck to paycheck.”
Heffington's paycheck already took a hit with furloughs during the sequester. Depending on how long a possible shut down lasts, this time could be even worse.
“We got furloughed not long ago, and it was fairly stressful. One day a week [for six weeks]. We were able to overcome that, but with this, a looming time frame of not getting paid whatsoever would be very stressful,” said Heffington.
There are over 7,000 employees at the Naval Air Station in Belle Chasse. Nearly 2,000 of them are civilian employees who will be furloughed without pay until the shut down ends, with some exceptions for civilian employees deemed essential.
“With Katrina and all, just getting back on our feet, it will be a big blow to my family,” said Bobby Ingraham.
Ingraham's wife works for a government contractor at the naval air station. She is told she will be out of a job if the government shuts down.
“We talk about it every night. We're hoping something happens,” said Ingraham.
Hours before the shutdown loomed, President Barack Obama signed into law legislation to continue paying active duty military personnel in the event of a shut down. But civilian employees who are not furloughed could see delayed paychecks.
“We put ‘em in office for a reason and it's just kind of disappointing that we're using our votes and people aren't really getting what they put people in office for,” said 3rd Class Petty Officer Fondriest, who does air traffic control at the naval air base.
Those like Heffington believe the longer a shut down lasts, the greater the effect on a fragile economy.
Military bases aren't all that would be affected. National parks like the Chalmette Battlefield and the New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park would close, forcing more than 60 employees into furloughs.
The FBI's New Orleans Field Division would remain open, but employees could see delayed paychecks.
Should a government shutdown take place, the federal courts in Louisiana have announced they'll stay open for at least two weeks.
The courts say they'd stay open for now and reassess the situation Oct. 15.
The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals has enough money in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, known as WIC, to operate at current enrollment for five weeks. If the government shuts down, no additional WIC participants will be added until Congress can agree on how to pay the country’s bill.
WIC provides supplemental food, health care referrals and nutrition education for pregnant women, mothers and their children.
Mail, food stamps, social security checks, Medicare, and Medicaid will not be affected if the government shuts down.