The partial shutdown of the federal government, which was in its record-setting 24th day Monday, has closed two area offices, the Farm Service Administration in The Dalles and the Barlow Ranger District office in Dufur.
Some 25 percent of the federal government is impacted by the shutdown.
A voicemail on the ranger district phone said the office was closed and staff didn’t have access to email or voicemail. It said if people had a reservation for a lookout but didn’t have a code for it, there was no one available to provide the code, so renters were told to contact recreation.gov to request a refund for the rental.
A small sign on the door of the FSA says “This U.S. Department of Agriculture office is currently closed, due to the lapse in federal government funding. The office will reopen once funding is restored.”
The Barlow Ranger District message said callers were welcome to leave a message, but said to be aware it may be an extended time before someone responds. “We appreciate your patience, and we will be back as soon as funding has been restored.”
There are five FSA employees on furlough. It could not be learned how many people work for the Barlow Ranger District.
The shutdown, which began Dec. 22, has affected about 800,000 federal workers, about 420,000 of whom are deemed essential and are working without pay. The remaining 380,000 are furloughed.
The Democrat-controlled House has refused to approve a spending bill with $5.7 billion requested by President Donald Trump to build 234 miles of steel barrier on the U.S.-Mexican border. Trump has said he will veto any spending bill that doesn’t have the funding in it.
The Social Security Administration office in The Dalles is open, since its funding for the fiscal year was passed last September along with that of eight other federal agencies.
The Dalles Dam, operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, is also operational, since it is part of the Department of Defense, which, along with 75 percent of the federal government, has funding throughout the rest of the fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.
Even rangers assigned to the dam are still at work, because of the source of their funding.
The Celilo Converter Station is owned by the Bonneville Power Administration, which is funded by selling power.
One local federal employee, who asked not to be named, said being furloughed was “so frustrating. It’s the uncertainty, not knowing how long this will last.”
The person had fears of not being compensated for time not at work. Trump last week said he would agree to giving back pay to furloughed workers.
The employee was wondering whether to start looking for other jobs, and said that once the shutdown is over, they will return to a mountain of work.
“The workload isn’t going anywhere. So you think, ‘Wow, when I get back to work, I will be inundated,’” the employee said.
Also in the same building with the FSA is the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Employees there are still working since they have funding to do so, an official there said.
Trump said last Thursday that if he can’t reach agreement with Congress he would “probably” declare a national emergency and direct the military to build the wall without congressional consent, according to the Washington Post.