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Government Shutdown: What's Open, What's Closed

What the government shutdown means for citizens.

Congress was unable to come to an agreement about the spending bill, resulting in a government shutdown Tuesday. (Patch file photo)
Congress was unable to come to an agreement about the spending bill, resulting in a government shutdown Tuesday. (Patch file photo)
by Susan Larson

Today is the 123rd anniversary of Yosemite National Park, but no one will be allowed to visit.

All national parks, national monuments and wildlife refuges are closed due to the government shutdown.

But essential services, such as writing Social Security and unemployment checks, patrolling the border and maintaining airport security will continue, according to the Chicago TribuneMail delivery will also continue, since U.S. Postal Service employees are exempt from furloughs. 

And, in case you were wondering, members of Congress — but not their staff — will still get paid.

A (Short) List of Consequences
  • Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and unemployment insurance are considered mandatory spending and will be paid. But there could be delays in processing new applications.
  • The military-operated Arlington National Cemetery will remain open, though the cemetery's historic Arlington House, which is run by the National Park Service, is closed, according to the Washington Post.
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, formerly known as food stamps, will continue to be distributed in October under authority granted by the 2009 stimulus bill, the USDA said.
  • Doctors will see Medicare and Medicaid patients.
  • Veteran’s hospitals will stay open.
  • The U.S. Postal Service is an independent agency, so mail will continue to be delivered.
  • The Federal Reserve is a self-funded agency and so will remain operational.
  • The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), air traffic control and border patrol officers would stay on duty.
  • Federally provided school lunches should be able to continue through the end of October, the USDA said.
  • The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, known as WIC, which provides food to 8.9 million low-income women and children, will be out of money, staff said.  
  • People who received a six-month filing extension on their taxes still must pay by Oct. 15. The Internal Revenue Service said it would suspend all audits, and taxpayer services, including toll-free help lines, would be closed.
  • Most passport agencies and consular operations will stay open as long as funds are available, the State Department said.  "During the previous shutdown in 1995-1996, around 20,000 to 30,000 applications from foreigners for visas went unprocessed each day," the Washington Post reported. "This time around, the State Department is planning to continue processing visas through the shutdown, since those operations are largely funded by fees collected."
Federal Workers
Federal workers have to report to work for about four hours Tuesday, the Associated Press reported. Employees are to limit work to shutdown chores, including changing voice mail and email messages, securing computers and completing time cards.

Military Bases
Active duty military remain on the job.

 “While military personnel would continue in a normal duty status, a large number of our civilian employees would be temporarily furloughed,” Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter wrote in a September 23 memo to all Department of Defense employees.

"Most civilians here will be furloughed because of the lapse of appropriations," Marine Corps Base Quantico announced on its website. Employees are expected to report to work on Tuesday, Oct. 1, at their regularly scheduled time. "At that time, an orderly shutdown of government operations will commence, employees will receive furlough notices from their supervisors, and amplifying guidance on next steps will be issued," the base said.

Base schools remain open.

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