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The strategies that one city in Iowa is taking to deal with the persistent dangers of government shutdowns



West Branch, Iowa – By signing a spending agreement worth 1.2 trillion dollars on Saturday, President Joe Biden narrowly avoided a shutdown of the federal government that was scheduled to take place this weekend.

In the case of a government organization such as the Herbert Hoover Museum and Library, this can have a devastating impact on their capacity to carry out their duties.
West Branch’s businesses may suffer if the museum does not attract a significant amount of foot traffic.

“At the Main Street organization, we collaborate a lot with the Presidential Library and Museum and the National Park staff. So, of course, if there was a government shutdown all of that stuff is essentially unreachable,” said Jessi Simon, Main Street West Branch’s Executive Director.

It is estimated that the Museum receives between 100,000 and 150,000 visitors annually, making it one of the most lucrative tourist attractions in the city, according to Simon.

“We hope that when they’re coming to visit the Presidential Library and Museum or exploring the national park, they’re also coming down to eat, shop, and explore in our Main Street District. So if those are closed, we do see a little hit of foot traffic to our businesses,” she said.

Despite this, the government has been on the verge of shutting down four times during this congressional term alone, which means that both Main Street and the Museum have been forced to make adjustments to the way they operate.

”It has kind of become a new normal. We are used to hearing from our partners on the Hoover campus that they’re planning up through the next potential shutdown. They weren’t able to commit to things past the potential shutdown date, or they were hesitant to make those plans.” said Simon.

Monday was the day that Senator Chuck Grassley paid a visit to the Museum.
He contends that the answer can be found in a bill that was offered by Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma the previous year.

With the passage of the “Prevent Government Shutdowns Act of 2023,” federal agencies would be able to continue operating normally while lawmakers worked out the details of the budget.

“You’d have no worry about the government shutting down, you’d continue to let the government function at the level they are for the last fiscal year until you pass the necessary appropriations for other levels of expenditure,” said Grassley on the bill.

Despite this, the bill has not yet been approved by either the Senate or the House as of this year, which means that another shutdown could take place on October 1st.