What will and won't happen with the shutdown

Campers in national parks are to pull up stakes and leave, some veterans waiting to have disability benefits approved will have to cool their heels even longer, many routine food inspections will be suspended and panda-cams will go dark at the shuttered National Zoo.
Associated Press
Oct 1, 2013

Those are among the immediate effects if parts of the government shut Tuesday because of the budget impasse in Congress.
In this time of argument and political gridlock, a blueprint to manage federal dysfunction is one function that appears to have gone smoothly. Throughout government, plans are ready to roll out to keep essential services running and numb the impact for the public. The longer a shutdown goes on, the more it will be felt in day-to-day lives and in the economy as a whole.
A look at what is bound to happen, and what probably won't, barring a political breakthrough:
THIS: Washington's paralysis will be felt early on in distant lands as well as in the capital; namely, at national parks. All park services will close. Campers have 48 hours to leave their sites. Many parks, such as Yellowstone, will close to traffic, and some will become completely inaccessible. Smithsonian museums in Washington will close and so will the zoo, where panda cams record every twitch and cuddle of the panda cub born Aug. 23 but are to be turned off in the first day of a shutdown.
The Statue of Liberty in New York, the loop road at Acadia National Park in Maine, Skyline Drive in Virginia, and Philadelphia's Independence National Historical Park, home of Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, will be off limits. At Grand Canyon National Park, people will be turned back from entrance gates and overlooks will be cordoned off along a state road inside the park that will remain open.
"People who waited a year to get a reservation to go to the bottom of the Grand Canyon all of a sudden will find themselves without an opportunity to take that trip," said Mike Litterst, a spokesman for the National Park Service.
BUT NOT THIS: At some parks, where access is not controlled by gates or entrance stations, people can continue to drive, bike and hike. People won't be shooed off the Appalachian Trail, for example, and parks with highways running through them, like the Great Smokies, also are likely to be accessible. Officials won't scour the entire 1.2 million-acre Grand Canyon park looking for people; those already hiking or camping in the backcountry and on rafting trips on the Colorado River will be able to complete their trips. The care and feeding of the National Zoo's animals will all go on as usual.
The shutdown won't affect Ellis Island or the Washington Monument because they are already closed for repairs.
THIS: The Board of Veterans Appeals will stop issuing rulings, meaning decisions about some disability claims by veterans will wait even longer than usual. Interments at national cemeteries will slow. If a shutdown drags on for weeks, disability and pension payments may be interrupted.
BUT NOT THIS: Most Department of Veterans Affairs services will continue; 95 percent of staff are either exempted from a shutdown or have the budget to keep paying them already in place. The department's health programs get their money a year in advance, so veterans can still see their doctor, get prescriptions filled and visit fully operational VA hospitals and outpatient clinics. Claims workers can process benefit payments until late in October, when that money starts to run out.
THIS: New patients won't be accepted into clinical research at the National Institutes of Health, including 255 trials for cancer patients; care will continue for current patients. Federal medical research will be curtailed and the government's ability to detect and investigate disease outbreaks will be harmed. Grant applications will be accepted but not dealt with.
BUT NOT THIS: The show goes on for President Barack Obama's health care law. Tuesday heralds the debut of health insurance markets across the country, which begin accepting customers for coverage that begins in January. Core elements of the law are an entitlement, like Social Security, so their flow of money does not depend on congressional appropriations. That's why Republicans have been trying explicitly to starve the law of money. An impasse in approving a federal budget has little effect on Obamacare. As for NIH operations, reduced hospital staff at the NIH Clinical Center will care for current patients, and research animals will get their usual care.
THIS: Most routine food inspections by the Food and Drug Administration will be suspended.
BUT NOT THIS: Meat inspection, done by the Agriculture Department, continues. The FDA will still handle high-risk recalls.
THIS: Complaints from airline passengers to the government will fall on deaf ears. The government won't be able to do new car safety testing and ratings or handle automobile recall information. Internal Transportation Department investigations of waste and fraud will be put on ice, and progress will be slowed on replacing the country's radar-based air traffic system with GPS-based navigation. Most accident investigators who respond to air crashes, train collisions, pipeline explosions and other accidents will be furloughed but could be called back if needed.
Kristie Greco, speaking for the Federal Aviation Administration, said nearly 2,500 safety office personnel will be furloughed but may be called back incrementally over the next two weeks. The union representing aviation safety inspectors said it was told by FAA Administrator Michael Huerta that nearly 3,000 inspectors will be off work. Greco did not confirm that.
BUT NOT THIS: Air traffic controllers and many of the technicians who keep air traffic equipment working will remain on the job. Amtrak says it can continue normal operations for a while, relying on ticket revenue, but will suffer without federal subsidies over the longer term. FAA employees who make grants to airports, most Federal Highway Administration workers and federal bus and truck safety inspectors will also stay on the job because they are paid with user fees. Railroad and pipeline safety inspectors will also remain at work.
THIS: About half the Defense Department's civilian employees will be furloughed.
BUT NOT THIS: The 1.4 million active-duty military personnel stay on duty and under a last-minute bill, they should keep getting paychecks on time. Most Homeland Security agents and border officers, as well as other law enforcement agents and officers, keep working.
THIS: The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, known as WIC, could shut down. It provides supplemental food, health care referrals and nutrition education for pregnant women, mothers and their children.
BUT NOT THIS: School lunches and breakfasts will continue to be served, and food stamps, known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, will still be distributed.
THIS: A shutdown that lasts two weeks or more would probably start to slow an already sluggish economy, analysts say. Closures of national parks would hurt hotels, restaurants and other tourism-related businesses. And federal workers who lost pay would spend less, thereby curbing economic growth. A three-week shutdown would slow the economy's annual growth rate in the October-December quarter by up to 0.9 of a percentage point, Goldman Sachs has estimated. If so, that could mean a growth rate of 1.6 percent, compared with the 2.5 percent that many economists now forecast.
BUT NOT THIS: Little impact on the economy if the shutdown only lasts a few days.
THIS: Economic data will be interrupted as the Bureau of Labor Statistics ceases almost all operations. This will leave the stock market without some of the benchmark economic indicators that drive the market up or down. The key September jobs report, due Friday, could still be released on time if the White House authorizes that, but that's not been determined. Statistical gathering also is being interrupted at the Commerce Department and Census Bureau. This means the government won't come out on time with its monthly report on construction spending Tuesday or a factory orders report Thursday.
BUT NOT THIS: The weekly report on applications for unemployment benefits is still expected Thursday. The Treasury Department's daily report on government finances will be released normally and government debt auctions are to proceed as scheduled. And at Commerce, these functions continue, among others: weather and climate observation, fisheries law enforcement and patent and trademark application processing.
THIS: Some passport services located in federal buildings might be disrupted — only if those buildings are forced to close because of a disruption in building support services.
BUT NOT THIS: Except in those instances, passport and visas will be handled as usual, both at home and abroad. These activities of the Bureau of Consular Affairs are fully supported by user fees instead of appropriated money, so are not affected. As well, the government will keep handling green card applications.
THIS: The Federal Housing Administration, which insures about 15 percent of new loans for home purchases, will approve fewer loans for its client base — borrowers with low to moderate income — because of reduced staff. Only 67 of 349 employees will keep working. The agency will focus on single-family homes during a shutdown, setting aside loan applications for multi-family dwellings. The Housing and Urban Development Department won't make additional payments to the nation's 3,300 public housing authorities, but the agency estimates that most of them have enough money to keep giving people rental assistance until the end of October.
BUT NOT THIS: It will be business as usual for borrowers seeking loans guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which together own or guarantee nearly half of all U.S. mortgages and 90 percent of new ones.
THIS: Possible delays in processing new disability applications.
BUT NOT THIS: Social Security and Medicare benefits still keep coming.
Associated Press writers Sam Hananel, Matthew Daly, Joan Lowy, Kevin Freking, Hope Yen, Lauran Neergaard, Andrew Miga, Deb Riechmann, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, Lolita C. Baldor, Jesse Holland, Mary Clare Jalonick and Alicia Caldwell in Washington; and Felicia Fonseca at Grand Canyon National Park, contributed to this report.



Great! Shut the Panda Cam off forever.


dang !

Dr. Information

Imagine that. A stupid Panda Cam being paid for by the tax payer. I agree, that is one thing us tax payers should not be funding. Can you say WASTE?

dorothy gale

Yeah, it's kinda hard for me to shed a tear over the loss of the Panda Cam.


LOL, Chinese Panda anyway!

The Answer Person

Instead of a shut down Mr. Boner, how about a SHUT UP!

From the Grave

Somebody's grandma needs to go in there and slap those snot-nosed rich boy brats across the face. Instead, most people's grandmas are probably scared to death that the Russians will take us over during this. Shame on them all. They deserve to be 6 feet under.

TKeegan73's picture

Close all of that listed but to delay Veterans' Disability Hearings and some Benefits?! How about you work double duty to ensure our Veterans that defended our rights and freedom are taken care of!These Veterans are the reason that Government workers even have a job and the Gov't just makes more excuses to screw them over, makes me sick!Our Veterans should be a priority being that they fought and risked their lives to protect each and everyone of us.....JMHO


I second this!

Just Because

Hear Hear! TKeegan. Really. Our government is shut down and the largest part of this article is how our Parks are affected? I realize this may ruin some peoples vacations for which I feel for them but there are peoples lives being adversly affected by our governments incompetence and you're (SR) are reporting the Parks?? In case you haven't noticed, our country and people are hurting. Most are not getting vacations. Some are having trouble putting food on their tables. Some are suffering for lack of healthcare....and you're worried about our Parks SR? Cmon, you can do better than this! I say if the government cannot come up with a solution we stop paying them AND our taxes until they get their heads out of their butts and start doing their job!!! JMHO!!

Kottage Kat

What is a vacation???


Good Lord NOT the panda Cams! Have mercy! ..... how can modern society exist without the Panda Cams! Its anarchy!

There you go again

"What won't happen" is that Obama will stop spewing lies about why USA is not recovering, why Benghazi was a phony scandal, why our debt ceiling is escalating, etc..........


Yet again, the obstructionist Democrats block another CR in order to continue force feeding us a health care law that 57% of Americans DO NOT want. On the other hand I think the Republicans are going about this all wrong. I say, let the law stand, give the Dems what they want. In the end, when the law takes full effect and the idiots who think this law is a good idea are crushed by the weight of it, the Republicans can come in and fix it and come out smelling like roses. To the brain dead Big Dogs, and Coasternuts of the world, all I can say is, have you read it? I can assure you that I have combed through it because I am using it for my doctoral dissertation. If you are hanging your hat on what the Dems are telling you about the law, you are gonna puke when you find out how much it is really gonna cost you.

There you go again

Don't worry, Obamalovers, you will still get your food stamps and other entitlements.


Keep in mind.....the Democratically controlled Senate, has not passed a (Constitutionally mandated) budget since April of 2009.


Thanks a bunch, Mr. Reid.

Pterocarya frax...

Perhaps in your hatred you didn't notice, but your information is out of date. The Senate passed a budget this past spring. Of course Boehner refused 18 requests to form a conference committee to resolve the differences between the house and senate bills.



Sorry, not hatred....just missed that one.

OK....maybe I do despise Senator Reid....

but I missed it nonetheless. ;)

Dr. Information

That spring budget was not passed because it was full of Trillions in tax hikes on the working class. Hummm, I thought the Dems were all about the working class. They almost fooled ya, but thankfully it was shot down.




Remember: To Progressive Democrats - DEBT DOESN'T MATTER.

In their limited brainpans, we OWE it to ourselves and besides, future generations will foot the bill.

Good to know, since the U.S. has the distinction of being the largest debtor nation in the HISTORY OF THE WORLD.

Just keep kickin' that can towards the fiscal canyon and keep raising that federal debt ceiling ad infinitum.


I hope the nutbar cases in Washington enjoy their shut down and of course, the 27th amendment gives them THEIR pay. Why not? But all in all not much gets affected really except parks, etc. What should have happened was the Senate and House and President don't get PAID....that I would have loved to see.

This is the WORST government administration, house and senate I have ever seen. Talk about spoiled kiddies.

When is the Republican party going to get over the election and move on? When is the president going to get along? Another three years of this and this country will be defending its own shores....mark my words. From California on. We can't find our butts with both hands anymore. Please don't tell me its the Democrats or Republicans fault. There is enough blame for everyone.

Just someone make a deal and move it. Even Monty Hall didn't have this much trouble making deals with the dumbest housewife.

Darwin's choice

^^I agree^^ !!


Occupy Wall St. "occupied" the WRONG city.


In the Soviet Union, they were referred to as the Nomenklatura (the Political Ruling Class).

Only mindless Washington bureaucrats could ACTUALLY believe that a budget impasse would "close down" the Grand Canyon.

Darwin's choice

More Obama bashing to defer from the shutdown....


Dr. Information

Compromise is not in Obama or any Democrats book.


Doc: Yours is a rather hilarious comment, since the various factions of the GOP cannot even compromise with themselves, much less compromise with Obama/Democrats. The current government shutdown is caused by the House GOP, who refuses to budge even one inch - their pattern since Obama took office. You expect the party in power to compromise, when the party NOT in power will not do so? Dream on.... Polls show that a majority of Americans blame Republicans for the shutdown, and I applaud Obama for standing up to the GOP, instead of caving (compromising) as he has often done.

Dr. Information

They were willing to compromise you fool. They were willing to raise the debt ceiling ONCE AGAIN, and adding to our national debt in concessions delaying the mandates a year for Obamacare AND not allowing tax dollars to subsidize any of Washingtons health insurance.

They fooled you again. They don't want to play by the rules they set forth for the rest of America.


Doc: Wrong. Obamacare should not have even been part of the discussion. It is already a LAW, and was given the seal of approval by a Republican- dominated Supreme Court. The rogue minority of the GOP House wants to do anything to defund Obamacare, so they refused to sign on to what should have been a routine debt ceiling vote, unless the rest of Congress, in effect, did a recall on the ACA Law.

In effect, it is those Republicans who are refusing to play by the rules of normal Congressional process, simply because they don't like a law. If they don't like the law, they should work to repeal it, not use it as a tool to shut down the entire government. Sad that you don't see that...


Re: "It is already a LAW,"

Weak fallacious position; laws are never overturned?

Did you take U.S. History in school?