Fort McHenry: Closed. Courthouse: Open. How the federal government shutdown affects Maryland

Fort McHenry will close. You can still tour the Naval Academy, but not its museum. If, like two indicted Baltimore police detectives, you are scheduled for trial at U.S. District Court in Baltimore on Monday, the wheels of justice will grind on despite the federal government shutdown.

Maryland, more so than most states, will feel the affects of the shutdown, particularly if it is a long one.


About 300,000 Maryland residents work for the federal government, comprising about 10 percent of the state’s workforce. While many are deemed essential and will continue to work, others will be furloughed, and when they’ll get their next paycheck is unclear.

Additionally, the feds spend about $30.7 billion on procurement in Maryland, said economist Richard Clinch, who directs the Jacob France Institute research center at the University of Baltimore.


“Maryland is one of the most government-dependant states,” Clinch said. “If [a shutdown] lasts a long time, the Maryland economy will be hurt disproportionately.”

Clinch said the economic impact wouldn’t be immediate, with government employees suddenly discontinuing any spending.

“If you’re worried about not getting a paycheck, you’re not going to order that nice bottle of wine or Friday night, but maybe you’ll go to TGIFridays,” Clinch said.

Mary Camper, who works in a Social Security Administration field office, watched on TV as the Senate voted on a stopgap spending bill that would have kept the government going past the midnight deadline. But the bill was blocked, with most Democrats, including Maryland Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, joined by four Republican colleagues, voting agianst it.

“We’re shutting down,” Camper said.

She is among the employees who will report to work as usual on Monday. She said she’s been told they’ll get their next scheduled paycheck, on Friday, but after that, it will depend on how long the shutdown lasts.

She’s been through this before: In 2013, when the government shut down for 16 days, she missed her mortgage and car insurance payments and was hit with late fees and penalties. Meanwhile, the elected officials who shut down the government continued to receive their paychecks, said Camper, 62, of Randallstown.

“I’m extremely angry about that,” said Camper, who is vice president of a local chapter of the American Federation of Government Employees. “They’re not doing the job they were elected to do.”


Camper said she is glad that yet another stopgap measure wasn’t passed and called on officials to get back to funding the government on an annual rather than short-term basis.

“You need to make a decision. You know we have to have a budget every year,” Camper said.

The impact of the shutdown extends beyond employees.

Those who don’t work for the government will see the effects of the shutdown immediately: Fort McHenry, which as a national monument and historic site is part of the National Park Service, won’t open on Saturday.

In Annapolis, the Naval Academy will be open for touring, because that falls under a business services division whose funds aren’t appropriated by Congress, said Navy Cmdr. David McKinney, a spokesman. The museum, though, will be closed, while sporting events will go on as scheduled, such as a men’s basketball game against Boston University on Saturday.

Come Monday, classes will be affected: About 60 percent of faculty are civilian, and they will be furloughed, McKinney said. The military faculty will remain on the job and cover some of those classes, while others will have to be canceled, he said.


While there won’t be major repercussions from a brief shutdown, McKinney said, “the longer it goes on, the more difficult it will be.”

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For federal workers and those who rely on funding from the government, budgetary uncertainty has become the new, if unwelcome normal.

“We are in limbo right now,” said Andy Ewald, a cancer researcher at Johns Hopkins Medicine, whose work is supported by private and public funds. “We’re in a waiting mode.”

His lab is currently in the first year of a five-year grant from the National Cancer Institute, so its work on breast cancer cells and how they metastasize will continue unabated.

“We’re still spending on the check they sent in September,” he said.

But another project he hopes to launch this year, on liver cancer, has been held up because he doesn’t know if he’ll receive the $500,000 needed for the first year of the study.


“We don’t know what the National Cancer Institute’s budget will be,” Ewald said. “It makes it hard to plan.”

“It’s so unclear from year to year,” he said.