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As a government shutdown looms, what's at stake for Florida?

The farm bill, projected to cost an estimated $1.5 trillion over 10 years, could have big implications for conservation in agriculture – including the production and use of fertilizer.
The farm bill, projected to cost an estimated $1.5 trillion over 10 years, could have big implications for conservation in agriculture – including the production and use of fertilizer.

Florida could feel the impact of a potential government shutdown if U.S. lawmakers cannot come to an agreement.

A new federal fiscal year is set to start on Oct. 1. But as of now, Congress has failed to pass any of the appropriation bills needed to keep the government running. House members were sent home Thursday with no budget votes scheduled.

U.S. Reps. Kathy Castor and Mike Waltz discussed the looming shutdown Friday with Tom Hudson on The Florida Roundup.

Castor, a Democrat who represents the Tampa Bay area, said she would support a continuing resolution to prevent a shutdown.

FLORIDA ROUNDUP: Listen to the full episode

But Waltz, a Republican who represents the St. Augustine Beach area, said there is no continuing resolution to keep federal spending at current levels on the table. However, he mentioned a GOP plan for an 8% spending cut and a border measure.

“I want to see the final package, but I certainly think we have to do everything to avoid a shutdown, and if we’re looking at meaningful cuts plus supporting our troops, securing our border and supporting our veterans, that’s something I’ll likely get behind,” he said.

Both representatives said they would be interested in working across the aisle on a continuing resolution. But the parties remain divided, with Castor holding House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and hard-right Republicans responsible for the current disagreements.

“It’s really up to the speaker. Is he going to choose that bipartisan pathway? Is he going to get back to the restrained spending level deal out of the debt ceiling? Or is he going to proceed and try to cater to the extreme right wing?” Castor asked.

Waltz said the Biden administration would hold Republicans responsible if there is a government shutdown.

“I think the administration would make it as painful politically as they possibly could, and that’s not good for the country, I don’t think that’s the right approach from the administration, but it is an election year and I do think they’d make it very painful. And they would blame us,” he said.

Kimberly Leonard, a reporter for Politico's Florida Playbook newsletter, spoke on The Florida Roundup about these disagreements, calling them all political.

“It doesn’t seem as though they are anywhere close to a deal. You heard a lot of divisions there about some major points in policy, and we are running up against a very tight deadline,” she said.

She also said the effects of a shutdown would be felt throughout Florida.

“We have 90,000 people in this state who work for the federal government who would not get paid. Many of them would not go into work,” Leonard said. Some of them include employees at NASA, the Small Business Administration, the National Weather Service, national parks, inspectors at farms and more.

“A shutdown on top of a lot of the other issues that we’re facing in terms of high costs, not enough workers apparently to work on various crops because of the immigration law, and we’re still not out of hurricane season. So it could compound an already difficult situation,” she said.

Castor said Hurricane Idalia recovery efforts would be impacted as well, including aid and recovery centers in Pinellas County.

“Some of the emergency aid will continue to flow to people, but it will complicate efforts,” she said.

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Gabriella Pinos
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