Some of the nation’s behind-the-scenes health and safety work would stop, however. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would be severely limited in spotting or investigating disease outbreaks, from flu to that mysterious MERS virus from the Middle East. The government wouldn’t process auto recall information or conduct new car safety testing.
A shutdown America could still go to war, Pentagon Comptroller Robert Hale told reporters yesterday. But soldiers’ pay might be delayed if closings lasted more than a week or so.
Other work that continues no matter how the political spat goes:
Prison guards, FBI agents and the Border Patrol will be at their posts.
Air traffic controllers and airport security screeners will keep planes moving.
The military’s 1.4 million active-duty personnel will stay on duty.
U.S. embassies will stand ready to help American travelers. And new passports and visas shouldn’t be delayed, a change from the 1990s, when the government last shut down.
College students can relax: Student loans and Pell Grants aren’t affected.
Social Security payments and veteran’s benefits will go out. Food-stamp dollars should continue to flow.
Doctors will see Medicare and Medicaid patients; veteran’s hospitals stay open.
The National Weather Service will make forecasts and issue storm warnings.
NASA will man Mission Control in Houston to support the International Space Station and the two Americans among six people living aboard. But aside from that, only about 3 percent of NASA’s 18,000 workers will be on the job.
The White House will stay open. It’s exempted from the federal law that requires many government employees to stop working if congressionally approved funding for their jobs expires. Obama could still take his scheduled trip to Asia the week of Oct. 6, if he chose to.
The post office will keep delivering; its budget isn’t affected because it comes from selling stamps and delivering packages.