Photo Courtesy Mike Groll, Associated Press
WASHINGTON -- Superstorm Sandy rebuilding efforts along the Jersey
Shore could be delayed if Congress doesn't pass a stopgap spending bill
in time to avoid a government shutdown.
"Nature brought the storm,
but the government shutdown will make the disaster worse," said Jeff
Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.
Tittel said a
possible shutdown comes at the worst time, just as coastal communities
are working on dredging, beach replenishment and other projects in
advance of the winter storm season.
"What about the Army Corps of
Engineers person who inspects beach projects? The (Housing and Urban
Development) person who oversees the grant money? Without those people
in those positions, it will slow down or stop those programs going
forward," Tittel said.
The administration released detailed plans on Friday regarding which federal employees would continue to work during a shutdown.
those plans, anyone distributing money from the Federal Emergency
Management Agency's disaster relief fund would remain on the job because
the $6 billion fund is financed separately from the agency's annual
But nearly all employees at HUD's Office of Community Planning and
Development, which handles grants to cities and states for rebuilding,
would be furloughed. Of the office's 749 staff members, only 13 would
remain on the job.
"If a grantee for Hurricane Sandy has money in
the system, they can continue to draw down on that," HUD spokesman Jerry
Brown said. "Beyond that, there will be no new money loaded until the
employees are back. For all essential purposes, that office will be
It was unclear whether federal employees who work at the
Small Business Administration and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also
would be sent home. Both agencies are playing a critical role in
rebuilding the Jersey Shore.
"It's a very grave concern,"
Democratic Rep. Rob Andrews of New Jersey told reporters Friday. "There
are a lot of people involved in the processing of applications who will
not be coming to work."
Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J., wrote to the
Office of Management and Budget on Thursday urging the administration to
make sure employees working on Sandy-related rebuilding remain on the
job if the government shuts down.
"Because of the multitude of federal agencies involved in processing
requests and administering various forms of aid, I fear a government
shutdown could harm our Sandy recovery efforts," he wrote.
Friday afternoon, Pascrell's office had not received any assurances from
the White House, spokesman Thomas Pietrykoski said.
Fiscal 2014 begins at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday. The House and Senate must pass a spending bill by then to avoid a shutdown.
to the OMB, federal employees deemed "essential" would not be subject
to furloughs, including most employees at the Federal Bureau of
Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of
Prisons and the U.S. Marshals Service.
But government shutdown
plans in effect as recently as 2011 - the last time a shutdown seemed
imminent - indicate that passport offices, national parks and monuments,
and local offices that process loans for homes, farms and small
businesses would likely close.