As closure continues, government entrepreneurs feel the effects


Catholic Charities helps dozens of federal prisoners reintegrate into society through organization-led programs in Waterbury and Hartford that provide counseling and behavioral care to former inmates and their families.

But because of the closure of the federal government, the organization is no longer receiving money for its services.

Catholic Charities in Hartford is one of many companies in Connecticut, non-profit organizations and local governments that have contracts with one of nine federal agencies whose doors were closed on December 22nd.

The partial closure, now in its twentieth day, is the result of a political stalemate between congressional Democrats and President Donald Trump over the President's demand for money for the construction of a wall along the border with Mexico.

Unlike federal employees who will not be paid during the closure, those who work under contract with the federal government have no chance of getting their wages back. Some companies were lucky, having received payment for their goods and / or services before closing. Others are not so lucky and, like Catholic charities, their funding has been cut.

Catholic Charities said the closure would affect its results, but not its mission.

"The work continues, but we are not paid," said John Noonan, spokesperson for Catholic Charities.

For several years, his organization has contracted with the Federal Bureau of Prisons to work with former detainees. Noonan said Catholic Charities is currently helping 29 clients in Waterbury and 33 clients in Hartford, most of whom lived in halfway houses.

The Bureau of Prisons, part of the United States Department of Justice, is one of the organizations that shut down because of the closure.

The Bureau of Prisons provides hundreds of thousands of dollars to Eversource for the supply of natural gas services to the Danbury Federal Penitentiary. And the city of Danbury has signed contracts of about $ 1.5 million with the Bureau of Prisons this year to provide water treatment and waste services in prisons and services. 39; ambulance.

The Department of Justice said it would continue to pay for these expenses thanks to the "carry over" funding from previous years.

But not all agencies have any money reported. The Federal Emergency Management Agency, for example, issued a stop-work order to all contractors, telling them that they would not be paid.

Connecticut companies also have contracts with the US Department of Agriculture, the US Treasury, the United States Department of Transportation, and other agencies worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Some of these contracts could be compromised, especially if the closure lasts several weeks or months.

If the shutdown had included the Pentagon, it would have had a much bigger impact on states like Connecticut, with robust defense industries.

But even the defense industry is starting to worry about the consequences of this closure, as many defense companies have contracts with other federal agencies, including the Coast Guard and the US Customs and Excise Service. border protection.

Bloomberg estimated that federal contractors potentially lose $ 245 million each day from shutdown.

The impact of the closure on business has prompted the US Chamber of Commerce to send a letter this week to congressional lawmakers and the White House asking them to "restore the full functioning of the federal government."

"The closure is hurting the American people, the business community and the economy," said the chamber.

The letter contained a long list of the impact of the closure on trade, including the impossibility for small businesses to obtain the help of the Small Business Administration, the suspension of reviews of mergers and acquisitions, delays in the approval of mortgages and the payment of goods and services provided to businesses. the federal government.

"The federal rules are stopped and hundreds of thousands of federal employees and contractors are paid without pay," the chamber said. "Every day that passes, the situation will only get worse."

This story was originally published on the Connecticut Mirror website,

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