Shutdown Day 1: Costs Already High

The DC region alone is expected to lose $200 million a day

By Imara Jones Oct 01, 2013

Capping a jarring day in which the economic costs of the shutdown started to pile up, early evening reports emerged that the House of Representatives will begin separate votes on each government agency to determine which will stay open and which will remain closed.  There are close to 500 government departments and agencies.

According to Politico, the House will take up a bill to allow full operations at the Veteran Affairs Administration and the National Parks Service. It would also permit the government of Washington DC to continue delivering services to DC residents. Should the House move forward with this idea, it essentially means that Congress would pick winners and losers by deciding which services citizens would receive and which they would not. 

But it’s unlikely to become law. That’s because Democrats in the Senate turned a cold shoulder to the proposal. Dick Durbin, the number two Senate Democrat, told Politico that conservatives are trying to pick their "favorite agencies to keep open" and went on to dismiss the idea.

The House move comes against a backdrop in which the economic hit of the shutdown is becoming clearer. Washington area economist, Stephen Fuller, told the Washington Post that the DC region would lose $200 million each day in economic output every day that the shutdown continues.  Particularly hard hit is its $6 billion tourism industry in the nation’s capital, which relies upon the nation’s monuments and generates badly needed revenue for the majority people-of-color city. 

Underscoring the chaos caused by the closure of the government, WWII veterans in wheelchairs and on canes broke through barricades at the World War II Memorial in order to honor their fallen comrades. But what happened today is more than symbolic. The reality is that the closings have started to bite.  

Nineteen thousand kids in Head Start were shut out from the program on this first day of the shutdown.

All of this underscores that the peculiar legislative process is spreading disruption far and wide. NBC News reports that IHS Global Insight, the global consulting firm, released a report that details the fact that the shutdown will cost taxpayers $12 million an hour. That means that at the end of this day taxpayers will have shelled $300 million just to keep the government closed.