Business Groups, Restaurants Appeal for End to Federal Shutdown » Bethesda Beat

Business Groups, Restaurants Appeal for End to Federal Shutdown

‘Economic shocks’ ripple through region, trade group says

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Government Shutdown Sign in front of Lincoln Memorial

Nearly two dozen Washington-area business groups are calling on the president and Congress to end the three-week old federal government partial shutdown which they say is putting a strain on families and the economy.

The groups, including chambers of commerce in Bethesda, Gaithersburg, Germantown and Silver Spring, said the shutdown is causing “economic shocks” that are reverberating through the private sector.

“We hear from our members that the adverse consequences continue to grow in Maryland,” said Gigi Godwin, president and chief executive officer of the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce in a statement provided by the Greater Washington Board of Trade.

With Small Business Administration workers furloughed, “grants, contracts, and payments for work already performed continue to be delayed,” Godwin said. “Federal rulemakings are at a standstill and hundreds of thousands of federal employees and contractors go without pay.”

The Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington said sales have declined as much as 60 percent at some restaurants with the overall drop averaging 20 percent.

An estimated 80,000 of the 150,000 federal workers in the capital region live in Montgomery County. Statewide, there are about 172,000 federal employees.

“Each bi-weekly payroll for which these residents are not paid results in $778 million of lost wages,” Christine Ross, president and CEO of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement.

Congress has approved measures to make retroactive payments to workers once the shutdown, entering a record 25th day, ends.

In addition, the state’s Bureau of Revenue Estimates said 163,356 residents in the private sector working on federal contracts are off the job and they might never been paid for the weeks their companies are closed.

Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot pledged this week to help federal workers who have tax payment plans by temporarily reducing or suspending payments on a case-by-case basis.

“The longer this government shutdown lasts, the more financial hardship it is causing federal workers, some of whom may never get repaid,” Franchot said in a statement.

As public pressure mounts for an end to the shutdown, President Trump has said he will not budge until he receives $5 billion in funding for a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico.

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