Mail would go through, but government shutdown would close national parks -
Published Monday, September 30, 2013 at 12:30 am / Updated at 1:03 am
Impasse in Washington
Mail would go through, but government shutdown would close national parks

If Congress fails to act by late tonight, it'll be lights out for certain parts of the federal government.

As many as 800,000 of the nation's 2.1 million federal civilian workers could be told to stay home. Many basic government functions would continue uninterrupted, though others would slow or stop. But the impact would grow as time went on.

Here are some of the key immediate effects:


If snow, rain and gloom of night can't stop these couriers from their appointed rounds, what's a government shutdown? The U.S. Postal Service would be spared from a shutdown because it gets its money mainly from selling stamps and delivering packages. So don't worry; that sweater from Aunt Martha should make it through just fine.

Social Security

Already collecting benefits? Have no fear. They'll keep coming.

But those who need to enroll in the program, get a replacement Social Security card or have questions about their benefits could be out of luck. The Social Security Administration would reduce staffing in the event of a shutdown. That means potential delays for those who visit a Social Security office (180,000 per day across the country) or call the agency (445,000 per day nationally).

Congressional offices

Lawmakers would be left with only minimal staff to run their offices. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., plans to keep his Washington and Lincoln offices open with a skeleton crew in the event of a shutdown. He even plans to pitch in answering the phones himself.

But Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, would close his offices and furlough all but a small number of his aides in the event of a shutdown.


Clark Griswold might just punch a real moose.

The most immediate effects of a shutdown would be felt by nature lovers and tourists. National parks would be closed across the country. So would the Smithsonian Institution's museums in Washington, D.C. So forget about checking out the dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum or the pandas at the National Zoo.

Meanwhile, State Department workers wouldn't be there to process visa and passport applications. Hope those plane tickets to Paris are refundable.

Health care

Doctors would continue to see Medicare patients — so, no, you shouldn't cancel that colonoscopy appointment.

Ironically, the rollout of the new health care law that Republicans are determined to halt would continue largely unaffected by a shutdown. The new marketplaces where people can shop for insurance plans and view what subsidies they qualify for will go online Tuesday regardless. And administration officials say telephone help lines will be up and running, staffed by contractors, whether there's a shutdown or not.

Internal Revenue Service

Some IRS tax audits would probably be suspended. Silver lining, right?

This report contains material from World-Herald press services.

Contact the writer: Joseph Morton    |  

Joe is The World-Herald's Washington, D.C., bureau, covering national political developments that matter most to Midlanders.

Lori Jenkins, charged as accessory in 4 murders, waives speedy trial
Iowa State servers hacked, nearly 30,000 SSNs at risk
New public employee pay data: Douglas, Lancaster, Sarpy Counties, plus utilities
2nd District House race: After 8 terms, Lee Terry knows how D.C. works — and doesn't
Bellevue man is killed at Minnesota dance hall after South Sudanese basketball tourney
Spring corn planting still sputters in Nebraska, Iowa, other key states
Nebraska banking and finance director to retire
19-year-old killed in one-vehicle crash at 72nd & Shirley
Gov. Heineman vetoes bill to ease restrictions on nurse practitioners
U.S. Senate race: State Auditor Mike Foley defends Shane Osborn against ad campaign
Public defender to represent Nikko Jenkins in sentencing
Mid-America Center on track for lower operating loss
Bluffs City Council approves dozens of new numbered street lights
National Law Enforcement Memorial Week set for May
Ted Cruz backs Pete Ricketts' campaign for governor
Omahan charged with 5th-offense DUI after street race causes rollover
2 blocks of Grover Street closed
Safety board report blames pilot error in 2013 crash that killed UNO student, passenger
Omaha man accused in shooting ordered held on $75,000 bail
2 men charged with conspiracy to distribute meth held on $1 million bail each
Waitress who served alcohol to teen before fatal crash gets jail time, probation
La Vista plans meeting on sales tax proposal, 84th Street redevelopment
6-mile stretch of Highway 75 is the road not taken
Database: How much did Medicare pay your doctor?
Millard school board bans e-cigarettes from all district properties, events
< >
Breaking Brad: Into the claw machine! Florida kid follows Lincoln kid's lead
In Fort Lauderdale, Fla., a child climbed inside a claw machine. Hey, Florida kid: Nobody likes a copycat.
Breaking Brad: Even Chuck Hassebrook's throwing mud!
The Nebraska campaigns have turned so ugly, Democrat Chuck Hassebrook lobbed unfounded accusations at an imaginary opponent.
Breaking Brad: Kraft wiener recall is business opportunity for TD Ameritrade Park
Instead of returning the wieners, TD Ameritrade Park is calling them "cheese dogs" and charging double.
Breaking Brad: Photos with the Easter Bunny are so 2010
In a sign of the times, most kids ran out of patience waiting for a photo with the Easter Bunny at the mall, just snapped a selfie and went home.
Kelly: 70 years after a deadly D-Day rehearsal, Omahan, WWII vet will return to Europe
A World War II veteran from Omaha will return this week to Europe to commemorate a tragedy in the run-up to D-Day.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
Steam-A-Way Carpet Cleaning
$50 for 3 rooms and a Hallway up to 600 square feet
Buy Now
< >
Omaha World-Herald Contests
Enter for a chance to win great prizes.
OWH Store: Buy photos, books and articles
Buy photos, books and articles
Travel Snaps Photo
Going on Vacation? Take the Omaha World-Herald with you and you could the next Travel Snaps winner.
Click here to donate to Goodfellows
The 2011 Goodfellows fund drive provided holiday meals to nearly 5,000 families and their children, and raised more than $500,000 to help families in crisis year round.
Want to get World-Herald stories sent directly to your home or work computer? Sign up for's News Alerts and you will receive e-mails with the day's top stories.
Can't find what you need? Click here for site map »