Just before going into recess on Thursday, the House approved legislation aimed at partially lifting the government shutdown by paying National Guard and Reserve members.
However, it’s expected the Senate will continue to reject efforts to fund only selected parts of the government.
Meanwhile, the 101st Air Refueling Wing in Bangor looks empty.
The commissary is closed and parking spots are open – all thanks to the government shutdown.
Vice Commander at the Refueling Wing, Colonel Scott Young, said “We’re not traveling, were not really conducting any training, were not buying supplies and equipment.”
Two thirds of civilian employees and about one third of full-time workers at the base have been placed on furlough.
“It’s very frustrating knowing we have to layoff our folks knowing that they’re such an essential aspect of this wing,” said Young.
The Director of Legal Studies at Husson, John Michaud, said “Can you imagine being a hard worker, dedicated government employee and suddenly you’re told you’re not essential you can go home? I think that has a lasting affect on the moral of people.”
Even those who are working, don’t know when pay day is.
Young said, “We’re trying to get clarity on that. To know who’s going to get paid when.”
The Vice Wing Commander said these furloughs aren’t a matter of importance, it’s about who they can keep based on what they are allowed to do. “It’s been very difficult to make decisions on who’s going to be furloughed and who isn’t furloughed.”
On top of a paycheck, military families are shelling out more cash for everyday items since the commissary closure.
Michaud said, “They probably save, the last estimate I read, is about 30% using the commissary and exchange. Well that’s gone for them now.”
The Director of Legal Studies said the potential economic loss for these Mainers grows by the day. “A lot of people are being hurt right now and it’s not just not being paid because they may pay you later but it’s the expenditures that you’re enduring now that you won’t be reimburse for.”
Even with all the cut backs, the Guard says they are still operating at 100% of their capabilities.