Local Federal Agencies Preparing a Plan B

(SIOUX CITY, IA) The threat of a default and the ongoing government shutdown have had local federal agencies searching for a Plan B.

The fate of certain jobs and programs in the Sioux City Federal Building is hanging on that tentative deal made by party leaders in the Senate. It only has enough money to get through the week, and today the Clerk of Court for Northwest Iowa said the Judicial Branch is preparing for the worst.

16 days ago, when the Government went into partial shutdown, many local federal employees were furloughed, the IRS was completely shuttered and the Social Security Administration was working with a skeleton crew until further notice.

The only building that wasn't affected right away was the Federal Building.

The Judicial Branch used court and other types of fees to keep federal buildings like the one here in Sioux City running normally. It was supposed to start making cuts to its services and staff on Monday, but now it has enough money to hold itself over until Friday.

"Across the nation the courts have cut back on spending. We have cut back on everything that we do trying to save these monies and make them stretch as far as possible so we can continue operating and serving the public," said Robert Phelps, Clerk of Court for Northwest Iowa.

And because that money is slowly running out, Phelps spent the day on the phone talking with the administrative office in Washington to come up with a Plan B.

"We're having to go into detail on exactly what is essential, what is not essential, what kind of staff will be assigned to what duties. We're looking at our calendars and our judges to see who has what going on in their court rooms and chambers. We're trying to establish exactly what we'll need to support those activities," said Phelps.

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says Washington wants the government to function even with disagreements on spending and controversial laws.

"I saw this in 1995. I never thought I'd see it again but here 17 years later it is and as one of our Republican senators said, 'I hope we never, never, never do that again.' In other words, hopefully after a second time we've learned a lesson," said Senator Grassley.

The Senate deal would reopen the government until January 15th. Senator Grassley said there's always a chance the government could shut down again, but he says the deal sets up a conference committee between the House and Senate to reach a budget agreement between now and then he hopes the special committee session could work through any disagreements.