Potential effects of shutdown
National Parks —- Likely to be closed.
Social Security —- Checks will be mailed out, although new claims may not be processed.
Border Patrol —- Deemed an essential service and will continue.
Air travel —- Air traffic control is essential; flights should not be affected.
IRS —- This agency will shut down in the middle of tax season. Tax refund checks won’t be issued.
Military —- Thousands of military members based in San Diego could go without pay temporarily federal officials said Wednesday. The question isn’t whether the sailors, Marines and airmen will be paid, but how much and when. According to a statement on the Defense Department website, the armed forces members would continue to earn their salaries, but wouldn’t actually receive any money until Congress reaches a budget agreement. (See here.)
Visas and passports —- New applications are not expected to be processed.
Postal Service —- The US Postal Service will deliver mail.
by Cassie Myers / North County Times / April 6, 2011
WASHINGTON —- The Border Patrol will remain on duty, mail will be delivered, and Social Security checks should go out on time, but a government shutdown could stall tax refunds, scuttle vacation plans, and put tens of thousands of Californians temporarily out of work.
A partial shutdown of the federal government will begin Friday at midnight, possibly a few hours earlier on the West Coast, if Congress cannot break its gridlock over the budget.
California has a huge population of federal workers, roughly 170,000 according to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, nearly the same number as Washington itself.
Employees deemed essential, such as air traffic controllers, doctors at VA hospitals, border agents and military personnel are likely to remain on the job, as they did during the last major shutdown in 1995. Others, such as Internal Revenue Service employees at 27 California locations, may find their offices closed on Monday.
None will be paid until the dispute is over, though essential employees are likely to be reimbursed with back pay.
A succession of stopgap measures has kept government operations going since the budget year began Oct. 1. The latest expires Friday, and with Democrats and Republicans unable to reach an agreement by Wednesday night, the White House has told agencies to begin planning for a shutdown.
The U.S. Office of Personnel Management posted a message on its website late Tuesday for the 3 million members of the federal workforce, expressing hope that a settlement might still be reached, but concluding that “given the realities of the calendar, prudent management requires we plan for an orderly shutdown should the negotiations not be completed by the end of the current continuing resolution.”
In Washington, the shutdown will have a dramatic effect, as a sizable portion of the workforce will be furloughed, trash will go uncollected, and the Smithsonian museums will be closed.
California may not feel the effects as intensely, but residents will notice the absence of many federal services.
The IRS will shut down in the middle of tax season, suspending the processing of refunds as well as audits (electronic filing will not be affected, a senior administration official told reporters Wednesday).
Passports and visa processing may also be suspended. Many Californians were unable to receive them during the last shutdown, wreaking havoc on travel plans.
Federal agencies handling Social Security and Medicare will continue to issue checks, although new applications may not be processed. Medicare will be funded for “at least a short period of time,” a senior administration official told reporters. He said the shutdown would have to stretch on for months in order for the trust fund to run out.
Entities deemed nonessential, like national parks, are likely to be closed as they were in 1995. However, it is not yet clear exactly what a closed national park means for tourists.
“Do we say the visitors center is closed? Or do we shut the gates to the park and nobody comes in? And then it gets even more complicated,” said Yosemite National Park spokesman Scott Gediman.
This issue is especially complex for a place like Yosemite, where a private company owns and operates the hotels within the park.
Yosemite employees were still accepting lodging reservations Wednesday, but they advised patrons that if the government shuts down, guests would be asked to leave Saturday morning.
“We’re more than happy to move reservations and provide a refund,” said Yosemite public relations manager Lisa Cesaro.
The shutdown would also suspend the collection of government data. This is particularly important in California, which relies on information ranging from geological surveys to findings from the Census Bureau.
A shutdown would probably close down the Department of Homeland Defense’s E- Verify program, which allows employers throughout the state to determine a worker’s legal status.
Environmental projects in California could also suffer. In 1995, many scheduled cleanups were postponed because of lack of funds, and the senior administration official explained that the EPA will stop reviews of environmental impact statements, stalling approval for potential transportation and energy projects.
New loan approvals from some federal agencies such as the FHA would stop, affecting small-business loans as well as guarantees for loans for mortgages.
California is home to some of the nation’s largest federal contractors. Companies such as Lockheed Martin and IBM as well as universities such as the University of California and the California Institute of Technology receive considerable funding from the government. Many contractors with multiyear contracts won’t be affected, but a shutdown could slow or stall some projects.
Government shutdowns are not common —- the last two shutdowns in late 1995 and early 1996 were a result of deadlock between House Republicans and President Bill Clinton.
“Since 1980, all agencies have had to have a plan in case of a government shutdown, and these plans are updated routinely. We are currently reviewing our contingency plan to ensure it is up to date,” said Scott Wolfson, public affairs director at the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in an email.
Like many Californians, federal agencies in the state are awaiting decisions from Washington.
“We’re not deciding” about the shutdown, Gediman said. “We just do what we’re told.”
To see the original article, go here.