Government shutdown closes some, not all, federal offices in Memphis

Updated: Jan. 22, 2018 at 5:55 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A handful of federal offices in Memphis closed Monday due to the government shutdown.

Politicians in Washington found common ground Monday and made a move to reopen and fund the federal government through February 8.

Federal workers were not inside the IRS Office or Housing and Urban Development Department buildings Monday. However, SNAP benefits office was open and giving out benefits to qualified recipients.

Michael Sances, a political science expert at University of Memphis, said offices are open on a case-by-case basis during a shutdown.

"The official word is 'essential personnel only.' Now, what that means can vary from agency to agency," Sances said. "Sometimes it can seem arbitrary, and honestly, whenever there's a shutdown, there's this scramble for the federal government to figure out who is essential and who is not."

A deal to fund the government through February 8 is expected to pass, ending the shutdown for now. But Sances said the expectation is the government will be shut down again someday in the future.

"If not in a couple weeks, probably not very far off. This has kind of become a typical pattern, with negotiations in Congress over the budget," Sances said.

Both House of Representatives members representing Shelby County said they would vote in favor of the continuing resolution that will fund the government until February 8.

"I'm going to support it. I think that a lot of people in my district--who have federal government jobs and benefits--are in need of those benefits or paychecks," Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tennessee) said.

"It looks like the government will reopen later this afternoon, this evening, and that's a good thing for the American people," Rep. David Kustoff (R-Tennessee) said.

Both Congressmen pointed the finger of blame at the other party for allowing the shutdown to happen in the first place.

Kustoff said Democrats in Congress were to blame because they refused to vote for a continuing resolution last week that could've prevented the shutdown.

Cohen said President Donald Trump's lack of leadership and propensity for lying were ultimately the reason Republicans, who have majorities in both houses of Congress, could not keep the federal government open.

Senator Bob Corker (R-Tennessee) released the following statement concerning Monday's shutdown developments:

"Shutting down the government was inappropriate, but I am encouraged by the bipartisan discussions that have occurred over the past few days. I will continue working with my colleagues on a solution to the number of challenges still before us."

Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee) released this statement about Monday's shutdown developments:

"Shutting down the government of the United States of America should never ever be a bargaining chip for any issue. Period. It should be to governing as chemical warfare is to real warfare. It should be banned. I'm glad we're back to work on reaching an agreement on a two-year budget deal, on needed military spending, on lowering the cost of health insurance for people buying insurance in the individual market, on the DACA bill, and on disaster relief."

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