Sep 28, 2023 - News

What a government shutdown would mean for Colorado residents

Illustration of the Capitol Building with a closed lock in place of the dome

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The looming federal government shutdown would hit extraordinarily hard in Colorado.

What to know: The potential impacts include:

  • The closure of Rocky Mountain National Park at peak fall color, a huge blow for tourism in Northern Colorado.
  • 44,000 federal workers and 53,000 military personnel in Colorado would be furloughed or working without pay.
  • The loss or reduction of food assistance for 88,000 families that rely on the money for groceries.
  • And the indefinite delay for other key government functions, from processing small business loans to approving new beer labels, congressional officials say.

The big picture: The U.S. Senate — with support from Colorado's two Democratic senators — approved a bipartisan package Tuesday to fund the government through Nov. 17.

  • But it diverges significantly from the spending cuts requested by the Republican-led House, where infighting among conservatives is jeopardizing a budget agreement by Saturday's deadline.

What they're saying: "No matter what party line you fall on, people are absolutely fed up with the party dysfunction in Washington," said U.S. Rep. Brittany Pettersen, a Jefferson County Democrat who represents one of the highest concentrations of federal workers outside Washington.

  • "Families are going to be furloughed, unable to work …[or] going without a paycheck," she told John in an interview Wednesday. "I still live paycheck-to-paycheck … I couldn't go months without knowing when I was going to get paid."

Flashback: Ten years ago this October, then-Gov. John Hickenlooper pulled about $360,000 from state coffers to keep Rocky Mountain National Park open amid a protracted federal government shutdown.

Yes, but: Based on prior shutdowns, government stoppage is unlikely to have major impacts on Colorado's economy unless it lasts longer than previous episodes, nonpartisan economists recently told state lawmakers.

Go deeper: What to know about a potential government shutdown


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