A federal shutdown would likely close Acadia National Park, and fall foliage season is a peak time for visitors who tour the park and spend money in the region. Here, a crowd gathers atop Cadillac Mountain to watch the sun set at Acadia National Park in October 2022. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

More than 11,000 federal workers in Maine would be furloughed or expected to work without pay. Food assistance for roughly 18,000 women and children would be jeopardized. And Acadia National Park could close its gates at the height of foliage season, sending economic ripple effects through area businesses.

Clockwise from top left: Sen. Angus King, Sen. Susan Collins, Rep. Jared Golden and Rep. Chellie Pingree File photos

Maine officials and members of the state’s congressional delegation warned of these and other disruptions if members of Congress cannot reach a budget agreement before Sunday, the first day of a new fiscal year.

“Government shutdowns are needless, self-inflicted crises that destabilize our economy, jeopardize services that Maine people rely on, endanger our national security, and further erode the already-strained faith of people in government,” Gov. Janet Mills said in a written statement.

“I know that Maine’s congressional delegation is working hard to avoid a shutdown, and I urge other members of Congress, particularly House Republicans, to put aside this unnecessary brinkmanship and to uphold their most basic responsibility by funding the government.”

Lawmakers are scheduled to return to Washington, D.C., on Tuesday to resume negotiations over the federal budget. Failure to reach an agreement before 12 a.m. Sunday would lead to a federal shutdown and the furlough, or temporary layoff, of nonessential federal workers. Essential workers, such air traffic controllers, Transportation Security Administration screeners and members of the military, would be required to work, but would not be paid until federal operations are funded. As a result, air travel would not be disrupted and national security work would continue.

Access to some federal programs, including applications for small business loans, federally backed home mortgages and passports could grind to a halt. But other critical federal benefits, such as Social Security checks, would continue to flow even if there is a shutdown.


All eyes are on the House of Representatives, where a handful of hard-line conservative Republicans is demanding deep spending cuts and other concessions that are opposed by Democrats and the U.S. Senate. House Republicans are threatening to oust House Speaker Kevin McCarthy from his leadership role if he allows a budget deal that doesn’t meet their demands. In addition to spending cuts, the group is demanding more border security, the end of COVID-era spending programs and ending what they believe are “woke policies” in the U.S. military, among other things.


Nicholas Jacobs, an assistant professor of government at Colby College in Waterville, said Monday that a federal shutdown “seems inevitable” given the entrenched opposition of House Republicans.

“If they were coming close to a deal then Congress would not have broken for the weekend,” Jacobs said. “It seems like the room that Speaker McCarthy has for leverage is really increasingly nonexistent.”

Congress needs to pass 12 different appropriations bills to fully fund the government beyond Sept. 30, though lawmakers can pass temporary funding packages, known as continuing resolutions, to keep the government open while broader budget negotiations take place.

While some House Republicans seem ready for a government shutdown, Senate Republicans have warned against an impasse.


Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said Monday that a federal government shutdown would have serious consequences, including the closure of national parks and federal offices.

“It is very disruptive to have a government shutdown and a lot of people don’t realize it ends up costing the taxpayers more money than if government stays open,” said Collins, who spoke about the talks after delivering a short speech at the Cumberland Fair Monday.

“A government shutdown is a disaster,” Collins said. “It is never good policy. I will be flying back to Washington this evening and will be continuing to work to prevent it.”

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, spoke about the potential federal government shutdown after helping dedicate a new Lions Club building at the Cumberland Fair on Monday. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Collins said there’s also the possibility a 30-day extension of the current budget could prevent a shutdown. “But I have a feeling we’re going to go to the very last minute, which is Saturday, before passing that,” she said.

Collins cited the closure of Acadia as an example of how the impacts would harm the state.

“This is a peak time of year for Acadia National Park,” she said. “If it has to close down, that has a ripple effect on local businesses and that is very troubling.”


A spokesperson for the National Park Service said that the “NPS doesn’t have anything to offer at this time” about how a federal shutdown would affect Acadia.


On the other hand, Collins said Social Security recipients should rest assured that they will still receive the checks even if there is a shutdown. “That is not a concern that an older individual who is receiving Social Security or anyone receiving Social Security disability should have,” she said.

Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District, said she was concerned about Mainers losing access to food assistance.

The White House has warned that the shutdown would jeopardize nutritional assistance for 7 million women and children nationwide who are helped by the Special Supplemental Nutritional Program for Women, Infants and Children. That number includes 18,000 people in Maine.

“Let me be clear: Maine children and families should not go hungry because Republicans can’t govern,” Pingree said in a prepared statement.


“House Republicans have turned their backs on a bipartisan budget deal to propose devastating cuts to programs that hardworking people in Maine and across the country rely on,” she continued. “They need to stop playing partisan games with peoples’ lives and work with Democrats to prevent a government shutdown that would hurt our economy and endanger national security.”

Rep. Jared Golden, D-2nd District, said he is joining with some Republican and Democratic colleagues on a bill to continue the current level of funding until Jan. 11, along with specific funding to support Ukraine and other provisions.

“The only way to avert a shutdown is to come to the table to negotiate a bipartisan agreement,” Golden said in a prepared statement. “Our bill keeps the government open, addresses the crisis at the border, maintains support for Ukraine, and stands with Americans as their communities recover from natural disasters. It is past time for both Republicans and Democrats to do what’s right for the country.”

However, such an effort would require the backing of McCarthy, who controls which bills get floor votes. And Jacobs, the Colby professor, said such compromise proposals face steep climbs.

“Knowing how much McCarthy wants to maintain his speakership and present a unified front and keep the very narrow Republican majority together, he’s not going to throw his support behind a bipartisan bill,” Jacobs said. “He wants this passed with full Republican support.”

Sen. Angus King, a Maine independent who caucuses with the Democrats, wrote in an Op-Ed published in the Press Herald that a shutdown also could halt the processing of federally backed home loans. King noted that the previous government shutdown cost the U.S. economy $3 billion.


“Maine people should not have to worry about political theater to receive the benefits and services that they have time and again called on the Senate to protect,” King said. “When the government shutdown talk begins on Capitol Hill, it’s not just a tactic or a political talking point – it’s a threat to families, communities and our national economy.”

King has cited the direct impact on federal workers, more than 11,000 of whom live in Maine.

The union representing federal workers is urging Congress to come to an agreement and points to the nationwide impacts of the 35-day shutdown in 2018-2019 – the longest federal shutdown in U.S. history. They said 420,000 worked without pay, including those working in transportation security, prisons, veterans affairs and border patrol officers, while 350,000 workers were furloughed.

The union said the national parks lost $400,000 a day in entrance fee revenue, while the National Transportation Safety Board halted investigations into accidents and the Consumer Product Safety Commission halted recalls of potentially dangerous products.

Jacobs said pushback from air traffic controllers and TSA officers who were required to work without pay eventually forced Democrats and Republicans to reach a budget agreement.

A federal shutdown also could have ripple effects on state government operations because of funding that supports certain programs and positions.



Maine exceeds the national average for the portion of its state budget that relies on federal funding. In fiscal 2021, 41.4% of Maine’s revenue came from federal sources, compared to 36.7% percent nationally, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts.

But the state currently has a record $968 million in its Budget Stabilization Fund, a rainy day fund that could fill any temporary gaps in funding.

A spokesperson for the Maine Department of Administrative and Financial Services, which administers the state budget, said the agency is taking steps to prepare for a possible shutdown, but did not provide details.

“In partnership with other departments, (DAFS) is in the process of reviewing all federal programs administered by the state to determine what may be impacted,” Sharon Huntley said in a written statement. “And we are reviewing the federal funding sources for their impacts on state personnel who are either partially or entirely federally funded.

“Funding the government is one of the most fundamental responsibilities of Congress. We strongly urge Congress to end the instability and to fund the government.”

Staff Writer Rachel Ohm contributed to this story.

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