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Government Shutdown: What Ceases, What Continues Government Shutdown: What Ceases, What Continues

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Government Operations

Government Shutdown: What Ceases, What Continues


The National Zoo is a part of the Smithsonian Institution, which would close to the public if a government funding deal isn't reached.(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

On a call with reporters, a senior administration official told reporters that two types of activities would continue in the event of a government shutdown. First, operations that have other funding sources such as user fees or appropriations that are not done annually will continue to operate. Second, any activities “necessary for the safety of life and protection of property” of the U.S. and its citizens would continue. This generally means military and law enforcement operations would continue.

Administration officials told National Journal on Wednesday that the following government services could possibly cease in the event of a government shutdown:

  • Federal Housing Administration's new home loan guarantees may cease. During spring home buying season, this suspension of new issuances could have a gravely adverse effect on recovery of housing market. Private mortgage lenders across the country could suspend new home loan closings as a result of having no assurance those loans will be guaranteed. Some 30 percent of the market is FHA loans.
  • Small Business Association approval of applications for business loan guarantees and direct loans to small businesses would likely cease, impacting the engines of our economy, which could slow economic momentum.
  • Internal Revenue Service's processing of tax refunds for paper-filed returns (approximately 30 percent of total), and performance of tax audits, would be suspended.
  • Operation of E-Verify activities by DHS would be suspended, which could slow down new hiring.
  • Patent processing will be suspended.
  • Non-emergency consular and passport operations may be suspended, though this is still under discussion with the State Department.

These services would stop:

  • All areas of the National Park Service and National Wildlife Refuge Systems will be closed. Limited access to public lands could adversely affect communities that depend on recreational tourism.
  • Smithsonian Institution and National Gallery of Art would close to the public (although Kennedy Center will remain open, due to significant private funding sources).
  • Many Environmental Protection Agency functions, including review of environmental impact statements. Only functions necessary to protect life and property will continue.
  • E-commerce transactions on U.S. government websites.
  • Many civilian employees at the Defense Department would be furloughed.
  • The National Institutes of Health clinical center would not take new patients or initiate new clinical trials. Trials in process would continue.
  • District of Columbia: Trash collection would be suspended for first three days of funding lapse. Public libraries (except for security), and a variety of District offices that perform non-excepted functions, including the Department of Motor Vehicles, would suspend operations. The Cherry Blossom Parade scheduled for this weekend would not take place.

These critical services would not cease:

  • Social security checks for seniors, people with disabilities and survivors would still go out (though the Social Security Administration is still finalizing plans).
  • Medicare payments will continue for a temporary period. They would be cut off in the event of an extended shutdown, but the official said that meant a shutdown that lasted for months. “I think we’re into a hypothetical beyond a period of time that any shutdown has lasted,” the official said.
  • Troops would be able to continue to work, though they will not be paid until the government began to function again.
  • Critical homeland security functions such as border security would continue.



Rebecca Kaplan contributed. contributed to this article.

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