National parks, air travel and beer: Shutdown impacts widely felt

How the government shutdown affects average Americans

(Gray News) - The government shutdown that has gone on for nearly three weeks is only partial, since about 75 percent of government funding has already been approved for the budget year that started in October, according to the Associated Press.

Still, the longer it goes on, the more of an impact the stoppage will have.

The shutdown has happened because of a lapse of funding. President Donald Trump wants $5 billion to fund a border wall and has threatened to veto legislation without it.

Nine federal agencies closed in the middle of the holiday season: departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Justice, State, Transportation and the Treasury.

Workers are exempted from furloughs if their jobs are related to national security or if they perform essential activities that “protect life and property,” according to the Associated Press. The precedent was set by the Reagan administration.

Among the effects of the shutdown:

  • About 800,000 federal workers have missed their first paycheck, including about 420,000 workers who are working without pay. These workers are likely to receive pay for their lost wages.
  • An estimated 4.1 million federal contractors are furloughed and won’t be compensated for their lost wages, NPR said.
  • Among those idled: hundreds of Food and Drug Administration inspectors. The agency has stopped routine inspections of food-processing facilities, the Washington Post reported. 
  • TSA employees are working without pay, and some have started calling in sick at major airports, which impacts security checks at airports, CNN reported. However, Michael Bilello, appointed deputy of TSA’s public affairs, characterized claims that the callouts are affecting security as “agenda-driven and only embolden the adversary.”
  • About 41,000 federal law enforcement agents will go on working without pay, including 16,742 prison corrections officers, 13,709 FBI agents and almost 7,000 U.S. Marshals and FBI agents. The U.S. Coast Guard will also go on working.
  • After destruction to trees and unsanitary conditions at Joshua Tree National Park, the National Park Service has closed that park. Parts of Yosemite, Sequoia and King’s Canyon parks are also closed. Other parks are open but unstaffed.
  • DC area tourist attractions run by the Smithsonian or the National Park Service, including the National Zoo, are closed. Outside groups have helped pick up trash in areas usually maintained by the park service.
  • About 52,000 IRS staff will be on leave, which means no one from the government will be able to answer your tax questions. Even though refunds aren’t typically processed during a shutdown, the government pledged that people will get tax refunds this year even if the shutdown drags on. 
  • Even though Federal Housing Administration loans and VA mortgages are still being approved, reverse mortgage endorsements have stalled. Mortgages in rural areas backed by the USDA are at a standstill, the Miami Herald reported, which could potentially leave people homeless.
  • More than 1,000 affordable housing contracts with private landlords have expired, The Hill reported. These contracts are renewed through Housing and Urban Development, which is affected by the shutdown, raising fears of evictions.
Trump administration will continue food assistance through February
  • Federal Aviation Administration officials can’t send out a crash investigator to a fatal plane crash in Michigan because of the shutdown, WJRT reported.
  • Breweries can’t release new beer on a national scale until the shutdown ends because the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, which approves the products, is shut down. This is delaying product launches.
  • U.S. diplomats and embassy staff who will shepherd Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on his Middle East visit are working without pay.

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