Today, following an impasse between Republicans in Congress and the White House, the United States government shut down for the first time in 17 years because the government entered the new fiscal year without a budget. The impasse occurred primarily over the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. While Congress drags its feet along to end this matter, it may take several days before we see a return to normal affairs. So, the question is, what is closed right now, and what is not? This article discusses what is stopping or closed, and there are many things that are facing that problem right now.
Google picked a bad day to honor Yosemite. (Screen grab)
This one is most glaringly obvious. All museums run by the government and national parks are closed effective immediately. These include Yosemite National Park, whose 123rd anniversary is today, and who received special attention today by Google via a Google Doodle. Whether Google intentionally posted up the Doodle to make a political statement (given Yosemite's relative proximity to the the company's headquarters) is unknown. With the closing of museums and parks, events and programs related to those parks, such as the National Zoo's Panda Cam, are shut off for the time being.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will stop running its seasonal flu program, which allows pharmacies and doctors around the country to get flu shots cheaply, so as to prevent flu outbreaks. This shutdown begins just as flu season is underway in the country, so there is likely to be a bigger risk for a large flu outbreak in this country, though the likelihood it will reach the epidemics of recent swine and bird flu outbreaks in China.
Several key government regulators will stop working during the government shutdown. The most significant of these is the Environmental Protection Agency, which will cease running (save for managing and cleaning up toxic waste sites) until further notice. Many of the Labor Department regulators responsible for workplace inspections, including OSHA, will also shut down.
Anything Regarding Immigration (And Visas)
The State Department has announced that they will continue processing the current visa and passport applications for as long as they possibly can, until funding runs out. However, they are no longer accepting new visa applications. In addition, the Department of Homeland Security announced that they will not run E-Verify, which helps determine the immigration status of prospective employees among other things, during the shutdown.
Federal loans for new homes will cease for the time being, due to the Federal Housing Administration's closure. New federal loans for small businesses, including direct loans and loan guarantees, will also cease due to the Small Business Administration's closure. Finally, the nigh-complete closure of the Department of Agriculture will not only shut down farm inspections, but cease farm loans and farm payments.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced that they will cease paying state affordable housing agencies this month while the shutdown remains in effect. While most state and city agencies are able to take the blow due to cash reserves, the agencies will likely have to stop giving payments to Section 8 housing if this shutdown stretches longer than a couple weeks.
One bright spot for some people: The Internal Revenue Service will close during the government shutdown. While this closure will negatively affect those waiting on a tax refund, it will aid those suffering from a tax audit or other tax dispute.