Tahlequah Daily Press

October 10, 2013

ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: Oklahomans feeling effect of federal shutdown

Staff Writer

TAHLEQUAH — On Wednesday, the Associated Press reported nearly 400 Oklahoma state employees whose paychecks are funded with federal dollars are slated to begin furloughs next week if Congress fails to reach a budget compromise.

Those who will be affected include 277 employees of the Department of Rehabilitative Services, along with 111 staffers of the Oklahoma Military Department.

The DRS employees being furloughed next Friday work in the Social Security Disability Determination Division. Military employees to be furloughed are, for the most part, civilians who perform a variety of roles that support the Oklahoma National Guard.

Additionally, 9,700 Oklahoma Army and Air National Guard members are no longer participating in traditional weekend drills, which amounts to $2.5 million in payroll each month that members will no longer receive.

Guard members may not be the only armed forces affected by the shutdown. Veterans may see their benefits slow or cease.

According to Veterans Affairs, October funding has already been allocated, but November looks uncertain if the shutdown lasts for more than two to three weeks.

In a statement from the Jack Montgomery VA Medical Center, Director James Floyd said, “VA strongly believes that a lapse in appropriations should not have occurred and congress should act to fund critical government operations.”

According to VA, services that will not be affected, include VA hospitals and clinics, prescriptions, mental health counseling, and the Veterans Crisis Line.