Parks close, employees laid off during government shut down

For campers at Lake Lanier, a government shutdown may have been enough to ruin a family vacation.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers campsite closed Tuesday, along with the Chattahoochee National Recreation Area and other federal parks, after a congressional stalemate over the nation’s debt ceiling caused the U.S. government to shut down.

While the Gwinnett County Airport’s air traffic control tower has remained operational and officials have promised government payments from Social Security and unemployment will continue, thousands of local people who work for the federal government have been laid off until a compromise is found.

According to Derick Corbett, the chief of staff for Congressman Rob Woodall, the Republican who represents much of Gwinnett, President Barack Obama has some discretion over which government programs will be shut down, so much of the actual impact was hard to determine Tuesday.

But Andy Phelan, spokesman for Congressman Hank Johnson, said the impact could widespread, from the state’s 79,000 federal employees to the 166,389 small businesses with no access to Small Business Association programs to the 25,112 Georgia kids in HeadStart programs.

“House Republicans control one half of one of three branches of government,” said Johnson said, a Democrat whose district includes a portion of southern Gwinnett. “For them to allow the tea party extremist wing of their caucus to lead this nation into a government shutdown unless Congress kills the healthcare law is more than unnecessary — it is selfish, it is reckless and it is destructive to the nation’s economic recovery.”

Woodall placed the blame with Obama and the Senate, bringing the debate back to the health care law, a major point of contention since Americans began to enroll in health care exchanges Tuesday.

“The Senate’s decision to side with President Obama’s ‘I will never negotiate’ rhetoric over the financial stability of the nation has brought us to the verge of a government shutdown. Rather than work together, the President has chosen to bypass Congress numerous times to delay portions of Obamacare for certain segments of America while condemning others to the burdens of a mega-bill rushed through Congress before Americans could study what was in it. The President clearly acknowledges the bill is flawed, yet still he refuses to partner with Congress and give every American a reprieve,” he said. “I remind the President that the U.S. Constitution doesn’t allow for rule by executive fiat, and we in the House have stretched out our hand in partnership agreeing to solve Obamacare’s unintended consequences for one year.”

“The American people deserve a responsible, functioning government,” the Lawrenceville man added. “We can continue to fund the government responsibly and work to provide the American people with solutions, and I hope the Senate will return to the table and do just that.”