What’s closed during partial government shutdown?

Although entrance fees were due to go up on the first of January at the Great Sand Dunes National Park, no one is at the entrance booth to collect them./Courier photo by Ruth Heide

The partial government shutdown began Dec. 22 after President Trump and congressional Democrats could not agree on funding for the president’s southern border wall.

Nine out of 15 federal departments are closed, as well as dozens of agencies. However, several funding bills were passed and signed, so about 75 percent of government services are unaffected by the shutdown.

More than 420,000 federal employees are working without pay, including agents from the FBI, ATF, DEA and CBP, as well as staff from the State Department, Coast Guard, IRS and Department of Homeland Security.

Another 380,000 workers have been furloughed from departments including NASA, the State Department, the National Park Service, the Forest Service, the Transportation Department, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the IRS.

What is closed during the government shutdown

Many national parks have closed, but several remain open during the shutdown, albeit without services.

At Yellowstone, private companies that offer tours have been performing some maintenance, enabling them to continue operating throughout the winter, if necessary.

The IRS has mostly stopped working (only 12 percent of its staff are working — without pay), and those who are working are mostly focused on security and technology. Anyone hoping that an IRS shutdown means getting a breather on their taxes will be disappointed. The agency’s website says taxpayers “should file and pay their taxes as normal.”

Immigration courts have closed, forcing judges to indefinitely postpone hearings scheduled months in advance. There is already a backlog of over 800,000 cases.

E-Verify, the government immigration system and database employers use to check and confirm employees are eligible to work in the United States, is out of service during the shutdown. It typically takes just a few seconds for E-Verify to compare an employee’s records against DHS and Social Security records.

Still open and operating during shutdown

Mail is still being delivered.

Social Security checks are still going out to recipients, and Medicare and Medicaid are unaffected by the partial shutdown.

Federal courts are still open and operating through January 11, by relying on court fee balances and funds that do not depend on a congressional appropriation. Should the shutdown extend beyond that date, the courts would continue to operate under the Anti-Deficiency Act, in support of Article III powers. However, staffing could be reduced.

TSA agents are considered essential.

USDA services related to law enforcement and “the protection of life and property,” and those that are “financed through available funding” — such as a mandatory appropriation or user fees — will continue. So, meat, poultry and eggs will continue to be inspected, as will grain and other agriculture commodities.

Nutrition benefits like SNAP will be available through January. Other nutrition assistance programs may operate with any state and local funding resources that are available, but no other federal funds will be provided during the shutdown. Child nutrition programs, like School Lunch and School Breakfast will keep operating into February.

Forest Service law enforcement and emergency response efforts will continue.

U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services, which deals with naturalization and citizenship, has been uninterrupted because its operations are funded by user fees.

Veterans are still receiving their benefits because the Veterans Affairs Department was among those funded through September 2019.

Passport services will still be offered during the shutdown. Passports can be renewed by mail or in person at passport agencies, post offices, libraries and other facilities, and processing times are expected to remain unchanged.

(Taken from various sources)