It was only last year — about six months ago, in fact — that we faced sequestration and the budget crisis that affected the federal government. Our civilian workforce on Fort Stewart actually returned to work Oct. 7, 2013, even with the shutdown still at a stalemate in Washington, D.C.
The agreement that got everything moving again was that both the House and the Senate would fill in the fine print on a two-year budget created by 12 separate appropriations bills. But so far, the House has approved only two of those spending bills, and the Senate hasn’t passed any of them.
And, you may ask, how much time is left for the budget? Well, after Memorial Day, there were roughly 30 days left in the session before the summer recess begins. Upon returning after Labor Day, the session only lasts until Oct. 2. So, that’s not much time to reach a resolution on 10-12 bills.
What does this mean to us? The possibility of another shutdown. And then, of course, everything hinges on the Nov. 4 election, as possible party changes could mean a substantial shift in how things occur.
While there has been some progress with things like the House approving its version of the 2015 Military Construction Bill, progress on an overall budget is at a standstill. Senior officials have said they find it unlikely that either the House or the Senate will be able to complete all 12 bills before the start of the new fiscal year, especially with expected arguments on things like health care and education.
This all could culminate in another government shutdown just weeks before elections. We are a military community, and we have grown substantially since the military began to invest in our town. Liberty County had a population of less than 500 when the military decided to set up a major base here in 1940. By 1970, our population grew to more than 17,000 and by 2012, it grew to more than 65,000. This county has thrived since the military opened our base.
Our business community is made up of small-business owners with a handful of national chains thrown in the mix. This community needs to support our military. We need to support them by supporting the organizations that fight for our soldiers as well as protect our civilian workforce.
Now is the time to act. Join the movement to keep our region solvent and invest in the Southeast Georgia Friends of Fort Stewart and Hunter today. For more information and to get involved, go to www.friendsofftstewartandhunter.com.
Hughes is the finance assistant for the Liberty County Chamber of Commerce.