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Montgomery Co. official seeks free bus rides for feds in case of new shutdown

WASHINGTON — For now, a second federal government shutdown in 2019 looks unlikely. Still, some area leaders are working to lessen the impact of a shutdown on federal workers in the event that negotiations fail.

Before the last government shutdown ended, Maryland transportation authorities began to offer free rides on public transportation for impacted federal workers. Now that the deadline for a second shutdown is getting closer, Montgomery County Councilman Hans Riemer would like to see an expanded version of that transportation program put in place in Montgomery County.

Riemer said this time around, the council would like transportation assistance to apply to federal contractors along with federal workers, though there is not a specific plan in place yet to make that happen. The idea would be to make Montgomery County’s Ride On bus network free with a federal ID or contractor’s ID.

“For the contractors, I think, I don’t know that we’re going to solve that problem tomorrow,” Riemer said. “But we’ve got some time to think about it.”

The problem that needs to be solved, according to Riemer, is figuring out how to identify someone as a federal contractor, as their IDs do not always reflect that status.

Lawmakers have said that the odds are favorable that a compromise on the federal budget is reached before the Feb. 15 deadline and a second government shutdown will be averted.

WTOP’s Kristi King contributed to this report

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