Former US delegate to The Hague recalls last government shutdown

TULSA - As Congress debates a bill to fund the government, the countdown continues to the first U.S. government shutdown in 17 years. One Oral Roberts University professor remembers what it was like in 1995 and 1996, as she served as a U.S. delegate to The Hague.

During the last government shutdown, which occurred during the Clinton Administration, Patricia Apy worked on behalf of the U.S. at The Hague,  negotiating the Protection of Minors Treaty when the government shut down.

"Suddenly, we received notice that we were to pack up our things from the table and leave because the government was shutting down and we were not authorized to continue our work unless and until the government gave us the go-ahead," she recalled.

During a 48-hour period, Apy and her team wondered whether they and their mission would be considered essential to the U.S. government.

"There's that sense that you don't know what to do," she remembered. "Do I get on a plane? Do I, do I go forward and wait until something turns up?"

After two days, she would be given the all-clear to return to negotiations.

It's a process that will be undertaken should the government close shop once again at midnight Monday. 

It's estimated some 800,000 federal employees will be furloughed Tuesday if a deal in Congress cannot be reached.

Similar to the climate 17 years ago, Apy says she hopes a deal can be reached before midnight.

"It's a pretty dramatic move, and I think a lot of folks are holding their breath right now and hoping that cooler and brighter heads will prevail before we get to that point." 

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