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Shutdown Gallery: Who Is Essential? Shutdown Gallery: Who Is Essential?

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Budget / BUDGET

Shutdown Gallery: Who Is Essential?

photo of Julia Edwards
April 7, 2011

The looming government shutdown threatens to furlough all "nonessential" federal employees. According to a senior Obama administration official, about 800,000 workers would fall into that category. But the somewhat loose definition could cause panic as some ask themselves: "Am I essential?"

Before those existential crises arise, let's take a look at some of the jobs that are guaranteed to be shutdown-proof.

 
NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

National Park Service Rangers

Tim Pierce/Creative Commons via Flickr

Rangers at national parks such as Yosemite and Yellowstone would continue to patrol their turf even though the parks would be closed to tourists. According to Montana's Bozeman Daily Chronicle, Yellowstone's rangers would make sure that no drivers using the park's open through road decided to stop and play tourist.

FBI Agents

Any federal employees whose jobs serve to protect life or property are considered essential and would continue to be funded during a government shutdown. So that would include the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

National Zoo Veterinarians

AFP PHOTO/Karen Bleier

Although Washington's National Zoo would be closed to visitors, the animals would still need to be taken care of. Never fear, Giant Panda Tian Tian would be fed during a shutdown.

Postal Workers

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The U.S. Postal Service would continue to deliver mail even in event of a shutdown. Post offices would stay open because the Postal Service is owned -- but not operated -- by the federal government.

Federal Court Workers

The federal court system relies on fees collected outside of the budget, so it would remain open for business. Because it is currently in session, the U.S. Supreme Court would also remain open.

Air-Traffic Controllers

Essential to keeping passengers safe in the air, the Federal Aviation Administration -- which employs air-traffic controllers -- would continue to operate.

TSA Screeners

Ethan Miller/Getty Images

A government shutdown wouldn't furlough those who pat down. The Transportation Security Administration would continue to operate for the sake of national safety.

DEA Agents

Eric Kayne/Getty Images

Like the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration would continue its work during a shutdown. Investigating drug activity is considered essential to citizen protection.

Border Patrol Agents

David McNew/Getty Images

Customs and Border Patrol would continue to operate during a shutdown. Those who secure U.S. borders are considered essential to the "safety of human life and protection of property," according to the Office of Management and Budget.

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