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Everything You Need to Know About Food During the Government Shutdown

Everything You Need to Know About Food During the Government Shutdown


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So it's week two of the government shutdown. What next, you ask?

So far this week, we've learned that craft beer production is now on hold, a salmonella scare is taking up the CDC and USDA's time, and, well, Congress still hasn't come to an agreement.

The bullet points on how it's affecting your food, drinks, and travels.

Food Safety
• The CDC now has some 30 workers back from furlough after a salmonella outbreak sickened more than 200 people.

• Watch out for imported foods: the FDA says it is checking less than 2 percent of imported foods. Check out a list of potential dangers here, including cheese (potential bacteria), tea (potential cocaine lacing), and fresh produce.

• Domestically, the USDA has gone from inspecting some 200 plants per week to zero, only monitoring meat and poultry. Vegetables, fruit, and dairy are no longer inspected.

Food Supplement, Food Health
• The SNAP program is still being distributed on a state-by-state basis, for as long as they have funds. Once those funds run out, however, the program will have to shut down, as the government will not be funneling any funds into the nutritional food program.

• Michelle Obama's Let's Move! program is on shutdown mode, despite its functioning website.

Chefs
• Executive director of Let's Move! Sam Kass (who was also cooking dinner every night for the First Family) was put on furlough. In the meantime, executive chef Cris Comerford is on duty.

Free Food
• Unlucky furloughed workers can eat away their sorrows at a bevy of restaurants offering free food, including sandwiches at José Andrés' Jaleo, Oyamel, and Zaytinya from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Other bars are offering special discounts, coffee shops are giving out coffee (and hugs), and most notably, some locations are making members of Congress pay double. An updated list here.

• Boston Market is the first national chain to give out food to federal employees and military personnel, offering a free whole rotisserie chicken if you buy a family meal at any location in the United States.

Drinks
• Craft beer folks, along with other small-batch alcohol producers, we imagine, are waiting for the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau to approve new labels, recipes, and facilities. So any new craft beers or bottles of wine you'd like to try? You'll have to wait that much longer.

Restaurants
• Restaurants on government property have been affected during the shutdown, as they are no longer allowed to open (unless they are leasing a space). In the meantime, Washington, D.C. restaurants have seen a severe drop-off of business near Capitol Hill.

Travel
• While it may seem like passport offices should close, it turns out the Department of State will continue to process passport and visa requests, with the processing times remaining the same. The reason? All of these operations are supported by fees, rather than government funds. Some offices in federal buildings might close, but passport applications are getting worked through.


Everything You Need to Know About the Looming Government Shutdown

With the government on the brink of a shutdown, The Daily Beast rounds up the five best explainers on the mess in Washington.

The Daily Beast

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Lawmakers just can't seem to get their acts together when it comes to dealing with the budget. Congressional Republicans want to delay funding Obamacare for one year in exchange for passing a continuing resolution that would allow the government to keep operating. But Democrats are standing firm on their position that health care reform isn't on the table. As Congress continues to wrangle over whether to fund the government, the midnight deadline is quickly approaching. Here are five articles to get you up to speed on what's going on in Washington.

The New York Times's fiscal crisis blog has the latest updates on where negotiations stand. Over the weekend, the House passed a bill that would keep the government funded, but would force a one-year delay of Obamacare and repeal one of the taxes that pay for the health care law. The bill was a non-starter as Senate Democrats are holding firm in their refusal to vote for a measure that includes anything to do with health care reform.

The most complete primer

Gregory Korte at USA Today wrote what is probably the most complete primer on the shutdown. It's a 66 question-and-answer list covering everything from the longest shutdown in history (21 days) to whether federal agencies can ignore the shutdown. (They can't. Spending taxpayer money without Congressional approval is a felony.) The piece also points out that even if the government closes, the state-run exchanges established under Obamacare will still open on Tuesday.

While a shutdown is possible in the United States, it doesn't really happen in other countries, explains The Guardian. In Britain, for example, tax and spending measures are enacted into law in the House of Commons, where they essentially become a confidence vote in the government. "Even the most fractious backbench [Member of Parliament] would balk at rebelling on it," the article notes.

What happens in a shutdown?

This Washington Post piece explains what will happen if the shutdown comes to pass. Employees whose jobs relate to national security— like military personnel—will still have to report to work, as will those who perform essential services like air traffic control, border patrol, law enforcement, banking oversight, and disaster assistance. But their paychecks for work during the shutdown may be delayed until the government is back up and running. Members of Congress, on the other hand, will continue to be paid no matter what happens thanks to the 27th amendment, which states that no changes can be made to lawmakers' salaries until after an election.

But that’s not even the biggest issue…

Even if we avert the shutdown, another crisis is looming just around the corner. Daily Beast columnist Jon Favreau reminds us that lawmakers still have to agree to raise the debt limit by the middle of October or the government won't be able to pay the bills it's already incurred. If Republicans refuse to vote for the measure, the results could be catastrophic. "A failure to raise the debt limit would inflict far more pain on far more people than a government shutdown," Favreau writes. "Breaching the debt limit would trigger an economic shutdown of epic proportions."


What You Need to Know About the Gas Shortage in the South as Costs of Everyday Items Are Rising

Prices on goods nationwide are surging thanks in part to inflation, supply chain disruptions and a cybersecurity attack that&aposs sent gas prices soaring.

Everything from the cost of Kellogg&aposs cereal and Coca-Cola to used cars, airfare and hotel prices have been on the rise, according to NPR.

"Everything you can think of is going up," William Lee, chief economist at the Milken Institute, told the outlet.

Consumer prices increased 4.2 percent over the last year — the largest 12-month increase since a 4.9 percent increase for the period ending in September 2008, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said in a news release on Wednesday.

The release noted that the index for used cars and trucks rose 10 percent in April — the biggest one-month increase since the series began in 1953 — while the food index rose .4 percent.

According to NPR, the jump in prices comes as the cost of materials like lumber and steel have increased amid interruptions to the global supply chain, and the trillions of dollars pumped into the economy by the government to try and offset damage done by the COVID pandemic.


Yes, because it&rsquos considered an essential and necessary service by the U.S. government. Checks will still be issued during the shutdown, and food stamps will continue to be disbursed.

This has been a big chunk of the debate. Because of the shutdown, more than 9 million children whose parents usually earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, yet not enough for private health coverage are less certain today about solid health care. Though Trump called for CHIP, the Children&rsquos Health Insurance Program, to be part of a &ldquolong-term solution,&rdquo the Republicans are just as confused as the president contradicted his own administrations plans, proving no one has a solution on the matter.


Busy week of COVID news in Michigan -- Everything you need to know

It’s been an extremely busy week for COVID-related topics in Michigan, from debates about another shutdown to quickly filling hospitals to six more months of workplace restrictions.

If you’ve had trouble keeping up with everything or just want a refresher, we’ve got a breakdown of all the major COVID-19 topics below.

Shutdown debate

Everyone wants to know whether or not Michigan will shut down again due to rising case totals. As Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the chief medical executive for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, said Wednesday, the state’s case and positivity rates are five times what they were two months ago.

But Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has insisted throughout the week that her administration does not plan to mandate additional restrictions beyond the ones already in place. Those include rules covering gatherings, capacity limits at restaurants and masks.

On Monday, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, made it clear she believes Michigan needs to shut down.

“The answer to that is to really close things down, to go back to our basics, to go back to where we were last spring, last summer, and to shut things down to flatten the curve,” Walensky said.

When Whitmer held her Wednesday briefing, her stance hadn’t changed.

“At this juncture, we know that the tools at our disposal that can most dramatically improve outcomes for people in this state are vaccines, and that’s why we’re moving so swiftly to get people vaccinated,” Whitmer said.

The governor’s stance is essentially this: She believes the spread of COVID-19 can be slowed with the rules that are already in place. She thinks the problem is a combination of noncompliance, more contagious variants and reservoirs of people without antibodies.

Last week she asked Michiganders not to dine indoors at restaurants, participate in youth sports or gather with people from other households for two weeks. But those will remain recommendations, not rules, she said.

Dr. Nick Gilpin, the medical director of infection prevention for Beaumont Health, spoke Thursday about hospital capacity and agreed with Walensky.

“If you also look back at our prior surges, what was the difference?” Gilpin asked. “The difference in the first surge that we experienced is that there were restrictions in the community to limit gathering sizes and limit indoor activities that we know are very effective ways to transmit coronavirus. We saw it in March and April of last year. We saw it in the fall and winter months in Michigan, and both of those surges, I believe, we curved, in part, because of active restrictions.”

When asked directly if he believes Michigan needs to shut down, Gilpin said he does believe Michigan needs more restrictions to fight this surge.

“I think that yes, we do have to have some level of commitment to restrict some of those activities in the community,” Gilpin said.

Vaccine surge not an option

Whitmer wants the federal government to surge additional vaccines to Michigan because of the rapid spread of COVID-19 here. But that’s not part of the national vaccine plan.

“There are different tools that we can use for different periods of when there is an outbreak,” Walensky said. “For example, we know that if vaccines go in arms today, we will not see an affect of those vaccines, depending on the vaccine, for somewhere between 2-6 weeks.

“I think if we try to vaccinate our way out of what is happening in Michigan, we would be disappointed that it took so long for the vaccine to work, to actually have the impact. Similarly, we need that vaccine in other places. If we vaccinate today and we will have impact in six weeks, and we don’t know where the next place is going to be that is going to surge.”

Andy Slavitt, the acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, agreed.

“We have to remember the fact that in the next 2-6 weeks, the variants that we have seen in Michigan -- those variants are also present in other states,” Slavitt said. “So our ability to vaccinate people quickly in each of those states, rather than taking vaccines and shifting it to playing whack-a-mole, isn’t the strategy that public health leaders and scientists have laid out.”

Johnson & Johnson vaccine pause

The other big vaccine news of the week is that Michigan will follow FDA and CDC recommendations to temporarily pause administration of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Of the 6.8 million people who have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine nationwide, officials have identified six women who developed a rare blood clot afterward, according to experts.

“Out of an abundance of caution, we are following recommendations from FDA and CDC and pausing the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in Michigan,” Khaldun announced.

Even though these blood clot cases are extremely rare -- just six in 6.8 million -- experts are investigating just to be sure.

For the time being, any Michigander scheduled to receive a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine should proceed as planned, and anyone who was supposed to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine should either reschedule or receive one of the other brands, officials said.

Emergency workplace restrictions extended

Michigan has extended the COVID workplace rules that were already in place, and they are now in effect until Oct. 14.

The six-month extension means any employees who can feasibly work from home should do so in order to reduce the chance of spreading COVID-19.

In-person work is allowed for jobs that can’t be performed elsewhere, but remote work is strongly recommended.

In-person businesses have to maintain a written COVID-19 preparedness and response plan and provide thorough training to employees. That training must cover workplace infection control practices, how to use personal protection equipment, steps to notify the business about COVID-19 symptoms and how to report unsafe working conditions.

Extended unemployment benefits ending

Federal officials announced extended unemployment benefits will no longer be available for Michiganders after this week. They will officially expire Saturday.

Those benefits are expiring because the state’s unemployment rate has dropped below the required threshold. Extended benefits take effect when the total unemployment rate averages 6.5% or higher for three straight months.

The U.S. Department of Labor notified the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency that the program will no longer be payable after this week. UIA officials have started to notify the 16,000 claimants currently receiving extended benefits about the program’s end.

The extended benefits program provided an extra 13-20 weeks of benefits for people who have exhausted their regular unemployment benefits and other extensions.

Michigan officials said the state has paid about $419 million in extended benefits since high unemployment rates triggered the program.

Hospitals filling up quickly

Gilpin said most Beaumont hospitals very close to reaching capacity. He expects they’ll soon reach their ceiling.

“It’s tight,” Gilpin said. “Every day each of our sites meets very actively to see what they can do to create space.”

Beaumont Health’s chief nursing officer, Susan Grant, said as of Thursday morning (April 15), most Beaumont hospitals are between 90% and 95% capacity..

During the second surge in Michigan this winter, Beaumont was caring for more than 700 COVID-19 patients in its eight-hospital system, Gilpin said. Right now, there are more than 800 patients.

Gilpin likened it to “a runaway train.”

“If we continue to see COVID numbers rise, we’ll have to make some accommodations, open up some additional beds, but again, the challenge here and the theme of the day is: Where are we going to get that staff from?” Gilpin said.

Grant said nurses and hospital workers are exhausted physically and emotionally. Some nurses have opted for early retirement, and others are leaving the profession entirely.

“We worry about it every day, and we are seeing it already, unfortunately,” Grant said. “It’s very concerning.

“At this time last year, none of us would have imagined, going through that extraordinarily difficult time, that we would be here again, same time this year. That we would be working and seeing so many patients who are infected with the coronavirus. Hundreds and hundreds of them coming through our emergency rooms.”

Detroit mayor’s COVID concerns

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan is worried about hospital capacity and vaccine rates within the city.

Of the 22 Detroit residents who died from COVID-19 in the first 10 days of April, 10 were 70 and older and have been eligible for the vaccine since January, he said.

“Many of these tragic deaths were preventable,” Duggan tweeted. “Our hospitals are soaring with COVID-19 patients. With COVID-19 vaccines more accessible than ever, I’m urging Detroiters to get vaccinated as soon as possible.”

He said Detroiters aren’t getting vaccinated at a high enough rate. Moderna and Pfizer vaccine appointments remain widely available.

“In comparison with surrounding counties and suburbs, Detroit’s vaccine rate is extremely low,” Duggan tweeted.


Everything you Need to Know About How the Government Shutdown Will Work

A government shutdown starting Tuesday, Oct. 1, is now upon us. The House and Senate couldn’t agree on a bill to fund the government, and time has run out.

So… it’s shutdown time. Let’s take a look at how this will work.

Not all government functions will simply evaporate come Oct. 1 — Social Security checks will still get mailed, and veterans’ hospitals will stay open. But many federal agencies will shut their doors and send their employees home, from the Environmental Protection Agency to hundreds of national parks.

Here’s a look at how a shutdown will work, which parts of the government will close, and which parts of the economy might be affected.

Wait, what? Why is the federal government on the verge of shutting down?

Short answer: There are wide swaths of the federal government that need to be funded each year in order to operate. If Congress can’t agree on how to fund them, they have to close down. And, right now, Congress can’t agree on how to fund them.

To get a bit more specific: Each year, the House and Senate are supposed to agree on 12 appropriations bills to fund the federal agencies and set spending priorities. Congress has become really bad at passing these bills, so in recent years they’ve resorted to stopgap budgets to keep the government funded (known as “continuing resolutions”). The last stopgap passed on March 28, 2013, and ends on Sept. 30.

In theory, Congress could pass another stopgap before Tuesday. But the Democratic-controlled Senate and Republican-controlled House are at odds over what that stopgap should look like. The House passed a funding bill over the weekend that delayed Obamacare for one year and repealed a tax on medical devices. The Senate rejected that measure. They voted a few more times and still no agreement. So… we’re getting a shutdown.

Does a shutdown mean everyone who works for the federal government has to go home?

Not exactly. The laws and regulations governing shutdowns separate federal workers into “essential” and “non-essential.” (Actually, the preferred term nowadays is “excepted” and “non-excepted.” This was tweaked in 1995 because “non-essential” seemed a bit hurtful. But we’ll keep things simple.)

The Office of Management and Budget recently ordered managers at all federal agencies to conduct reviews to see which of their employees fall into each of these two categories. If a shutdown hits, the essential workers stick around, albeit without pay. The non-essential workers have to go home after a half-day of preparing to close shop.

Which parts of government stay open?

There are a whole bunch of key government functions that carry on during a shutdown, including anything related to national security, public safety, or programs written into permanent law (like Social Security). Here’s a partial list:

— Any employee or office that “provides for the national security, including the conduct of foreign relations essential to the national security or the safety of life and property.” That means the U.S. military will keep operating, for one. So will embassies abroad.

— Any employee who conducts “essential activities to the extent that they protect life and property.” So, for example: Air traffic control stays open. So does all emergency medical care, border patrol, federal prisons, most law enforcement, emergency and disaster assistance, overseeing the banking system, operating the power grid, and guarding federal property.

— Agencies have to keep sending out benefits and operating programs that are written into permanent law or get multi-year funding. That means sending out Social Security checks and providing certain types of veterans’ benefits. Unemployment benefits and food stamps will also continue for the time being, since their funding has been approved in earlier bills.

— All agencies with independent sources of funding remain open, including the U.S. Postal Service and the Federal Reserve.

— Members of Congress can stick around, since their pay is written into permanent law. Congressional staffers however, will also get divided into essential and non-essential, with the latter getting furloughed. Many White House employees could also get sent home.

Do these “essential” employees who keep working get paid?

The 1.3 million or so “essential” civilian employees who stay on could well see their paychecks delayed during the shutdown, depending on the timing. They should, however, receive retroactive pay if and when Congress decides to fund the government again.

The 1.4 million active-service military members, meanwhile, will get paid no matter how long the shutdown lasts. That’s because the House and Senate specifically passed a bill to guarantee active-duty military pay even when the government is closed. Obama signed it into law Monday night.

So which parts of government actually shut down?

Everything else, basically. It’s a fairly long list, and you can check out in detail which activities the agencies are planning to halt in these contingency plans posted by each agency. Here are a few select examples:

Health: The National Institutes of Health will stop accepting new patients for clinical research and stop answering hotline calls about medical questions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will stop its seasonal flu program and have a “significantly reduced capacity to respond to outbreak investigations.”

Housing: The Department of Housing and Urban Development will not be able to provide local housing authorities with additional money for housing vouchers. The nation’s 3,300 public housing authorities will also stop receiving payments, although most of these agencies have enough cash on hand to provide rental assistance through the end of October.

Immigration: The Department of Homeland Security will no longer operate its E-Verify program, which means that businesses will not be able to check on the legal immigration status of prospective employees during the shutdown.

Law enforcement: Although agencies like the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Agency will continue their operations, the Justice Department will suspend many civil cases for as long as the government is shut down.

Parks and museums: The National Park Service will close more than 400 national parks and museums, including Yosemite National Park in California, Alcatraz in San Francisco, and the Statue of Liberty in New York. The last time this happened during the 1995-96 shutdown, some 7 million visitors were turned away. (One big exception was the south rim of the Grand Canyon, which stayed open only because Arizona agreed to pick up the tab.)

Regulatory agencies: The Environmental Protection Agency will close down almost entirely during a shutdown, save for operations around Superfund sites. Many of the Labor Department’s regulatory offices will close, including the Wage and Hour Division and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (The Mine Safety and Health Administration will, however, stay open.)

Financial regulators. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which oversees the vast U.S. derivatives market, will largely shut down. A few financial regulators, however, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission, will remain open.

(Small parts of) Social Security: The Social Security Administration will retain enough staff to make sure the checks keep going out. But the agency won’t have enough employees to do things like help recipients replace their benefit cards or schedule new hearings for disability cases.

Visas and passports: The State Department says it will keep most passport agencies and consular operations open so long as it has the funds to do so, although some activities might be interrupted. (For instance, “if a passport agency is located in a government building affected by a lapse in appropriations, the facility may become unsupported.”)

During the previous shutdown in 1995-’96, around 20,000 to 30,000 applications from foreigners for visas went unprocessed each day. This time around, the State Department is planning to continue processing visas through the shutdown, since those operations are largely funded by fees collected.

Veterans: Some key benefits will continue and the VA hospitals will remained open. But many services will be disrupted. The Veterans Benefits Administration will be unable to process education and rehabilitation benefits. The Board of Veterans’ Appeals will be unable to hold hearings.

What’s more, if the shutdown lasts for more than two or three weeks, the Department of Veterans Affairs has said that it may not have enough money to pay disability claims and pension payments. That could affect some 3.6 million veterans.

Women, Infants, and Children: The Department of Agriculture will cut off support for the Women, Infants and Children program, which helps pregnant women and new moms buy healthy food and provides nutritional information and health care referrals. The program reaches some 9 million Americans. The USDA estimates most states have funds to continue their programs for “a week or so,” but they’ll “likely be unable to sustain operations for a longer period” — emergency funds may run out by the end of October.

Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.) has a list of other possible effects of a shutdown. Funds to help states administer unemployment benefits could get disrupted, IRS tax-refund processing for certain returns would be suspended, farm loans and payments would stop, and Small Business Administration approval of business loan guarantees and direct loans would likely cease.

Would the city of Washington D.C. be affected?

Only if the shutdown goes on longer than a few weeks. In theory, the District of Columbia is supposed to shut down all but its most essential services during a government shutdown. But Mayor Vincent Gray has said that he will label all city services “essential” and use a cash reserve fund to keep everything going for as long as possible.

Some background: The District of Columbia is the only city barred from spending funds during a federal government shutdown, save for a few select services. During the 1995-’96 shutdown, the city was only able to keep police, firefighters and EMS units on duty. Trash collection and street sweeping came to a stop until Congress finally intervened.

This time, however, the District is taking a more defiant stance. Gray has recently said that he will declare all city services “essential” and keep them running. And the city has $144 million in funds to carry out services like trash collection and street sweeping for two weeks. If the shutdown drags on longer, however, it’s unclear what will happen…

How many federal employees would be affected by a government shutdown?

The government estimates that roughly 800,000 federal workers will get sent home if the government shuts down.

That leaves about 1.3 million “essential” federal workers, 1.4 million active-duty military members, 500,000 Postal Service workers, and other employees in independently-funded agencies who will continue working.

Can you give me an agency-by-agency breakdown of the impacts?

Yes. We’ve been compiling a detailed list here at the Post, but here’s a brief overview, showing how many employees are furloughed, and examples of who stays and who goes:

Department of Commerce: 87 percent of the agency’s 46,420 employees would be sent home. (The Weather Service would keep running, for instance, but the Census Bureau would close down.)

Department of Defense: 50 percent of the 800,000 civilian employees would be sent home while all 1.4 million active-duty military members would stay on. (Environmental engineers, for instance, would get furloughed, and the agency could not sign any new defense contracts.)

Department of Energy: Thanks to multi-year funding, parts of the agency can actually operate for “a short period of time” after Sept. 30. But eventually 69 percent of the agency’s 13,814 employees will be sent home. (Those in charge of nuclear materials and power grids stay. Those conducting energy research go home.)

Environmental Protection Agency: 94 percent of the 16,205 employees will be sent home. (Those protecting toxic Superfund sites stay. Pollution and pesticide regulators get sent home.)

Federal Reserve: Everyone would stay, since the central bank has an independent source of funding.

Department of Health and Human Services: 52 percent of 78,198 employees would be sent home. (Those running the Suicide Prevention Lifeline would stay, those in charge of investigating Medicare fraud would go home.)

Department of Homeland Security: 14 percent of the 231,117 employees would go home. (Border Patrol would stay. Operations of E-Verify would cease. The department will also suspend disaster-preparedness grants to states and localities.)

Department of Housing and Urban Development: 95 percent of the 8,709 employees would go home. (Those in charge of guaranteeing mortgages at Ginnie Mae would stay, as would those in charge of homelessness programs. Almost everything else would come to a halt.)

Department of Interior: 81 percent of the 72,562 employees would be sent home. (Wildlife law enforcement officers would stay, while the national parks would close.)

Department of Justice: 15 percent of the 114,486 employees would go home. (FBI agents, drug enforcement agents, and federal prison employees would stay. The department would continue running background checks for gun sales. Some attorneys would go home.)

Department of Labor: 82 percent of the 16,304 employees would be sent home. (Mine-safety inspectors will stay. Wage and occupational safety regulators will go home. Employees compiling economic data for the Bureau of Labor Statistics will also get furloughed.)

NASA: 97 percent of the 18,134 employees would be sent home. (Scientists working on the International Space Station will stay. Many engineers will go home.)

U.S. Postal Service: Everyone would stay, since the Postal Service is self-funded.

Social Security Administration: 29 percent of the 62,343 employees would be sent home. (Claims representatives would stay actuaries would go home.)

Supreme Court and federal courts. Federal courts, will continue to operate for approximately two weeks with reserve funds. After that, only essential employees would continue to work, as determined by the chief judge, with the rest furloughed. (The Supreme Court will continue to operate when it opens Oct. 7, as it did in previous shutdowns.)

Department of Treasury: 80 percent of the 112,461 employees will be sent home. (Those sending out Social Security checks would stay IRS employees overseeing audits would go home.)

Department of Transportation: 33 percent of the 55,468 employees will get sent home. (Air-traffic controllers will stay on most airport inspections will cease.)

Department of Veterans Affairs: 4 percent of the 332,025 employees would go home. (Hospital workers will stay some workers in charge of processing benefits will go home.)

A much, much more detailed list can be found in the agency contingency plans online.

Do “non-essential employees” who get sent home ever get paid?

That’s unclear, as my colleague Lisa Rein has reported. On the first day of the shutdown, these employees do have to come to their offices to secure their files, set up auto-reply messages, and make preparations necessary to halt their programs.

The last time this happened, Congress later agreed to pay these employees retroactively when the government reopened. But that’s completely up to Congress.

Is the government even prepared for a shutdown?

Maybe? As mentioned before, the Office of Management and Budget has asked federal agencies to develop contingency plans for a shutdown. But chaos is always possible. Back during the 1995 shutdown, the Social Security Administration initially sent home far too many workers and had to recall 50,000 of them after three days in order to carry out its legal duties.

Which parts of the economy would be most affected by a shutdown?

— The local economy around Washington, D.C. is expected to lose some $200 million in economic activity for each day that the government is shut down.

— Economist Mark Zandi has estimated that a short government shutdown, which would send more than 800,000 federal workers home, could shave about 0.3 percentage points off economic growth in the fourth quarter of 2013 (though the economy would likely bounce back in the following quarter). A more extended shutdown could do even more damage.

— Alternatively, we can look at what happened back in 1995 and 1996, the last two times the federal government actually shut down for a few weeks. In a research note earlier this month, Chris Krueger of Guggenheim Partners passed along some thoughts about the possible economic impacts of a shutdown in a few areas:

Tourism: U.S. tourist industries and airlines reportedly sustained millions of dollars in losses during the 1995 and 1996 shutdowns, in part because so many parks and museums were shutting down, turning away 7 million visitors in all.

Federal contractors: Of the $18 billion in federal contracts in the D.C. area back in 1995-’96, about one-fifth, or $3.7 billion, were put on hold during that era’s shutdown. Employees of contractors were reportedly furloughed without pay.

The effects would be considerably larger today, given that the number of private contractors has swelled over the past two decades. In Fairfax County, Virginia, alone there are currently 4,100 contractors that bring in about $26 billion per year. It’s still unclear exactly how many of those contracts would be affected.

Energy: The Department of Interior would temporarily stop reviewing permits for onshore oil and gas drilling as well as applications for renewable energy projects on public land. (The Department of Energy can keep processing applications for liquefied natural gas exports for the time being, though it’s not clear how long that funding will last.)

Pharma and biotech: This one’s harder to game out. The Food and Drug Administration didn’t have to shut down in 1995 and 1996 because it was already funded. This time around, however, the FDA won’t be spared, and the review process for new drugs is likely to get bogged down. The shutdown could also put a cramp on the grant process from the National Institutes of Health. “If prolonged,” Krueger writes, “that could negatively impact life sciences/diagnostics companies.

Would a government shutdown stop Obamacare from happening?

No. As Sarah Kliff has explained, the key parts of Obamacare rely on mandatory spending that isn’t affected by a shutdown. “That includes the new online marketplaces, known as exchanges, where uninsured people will be able to shop for coverage. The Medicaid expansion is funded with mandatory funding, as are the billions in federal tax credits to help with purchasing coverage.”

That means uninsured Americans will be able to start shopping for plans when the exchanges launch Oct. 1, although there are likely to be some glitches.

How do you end a government shutdown?

Congress needs to pass a bill (or bills) to fund the government, and the White House has to sign them. They can do this at any time. Or they can sit at home and keep the government closed. Nothing requires them to do anything. It depends what sort of political pressure they’re facing.

How often has the government shut down before?

Technically, 17 times. But a serious, prolonged shutdown? That’s only happened once before.

Since 1976, there have been 17 times when Congress has allowed government funding to lapse. Back in the 1970s, this happened on six occasions, although those lapses didn’t lead to actual, physical shutdowns — government carried on as usual.

Then, in the early 1980s, then-Attorney General Benjamin Civiletti argued that the Anti-Deficiency Act actually required government agencies to close down if their funding expired. Since then, a failure to fund the government has meant an actual, tangible shutdown. Most of the shutdowns in the 1980s were brief affairs.

By far the most significant shutdown to date came in 1995-’96 and lasted 21 days, as Bill Clinton wrangled with congressional Republicans over budget matters.

Is a government shutdown the same thing as breaching the debt ceiling?

Nope! Different type of crisis. In a government shutdown, the federal government is not allowed to make any new spending commitments (save for all the exceptions noted above).

By contrast, if we hit the debt-ceiling then the Treasury Department won’t be able to borrow money to pay for spending that Congress has already approved. In that case, either Congress will have to lift the debt ceiling or the federal government will have to default on some of its bills, possibly including payments to bondholders or Social Security payouts. That could trigger big disruptions in the financial markets — or a long-term rise in borrowing costs.

The Bipartisan Policy Center estimates that we’re on pace to breach the debt ceiling sometime between Oct. 18 and Nov. 5. So if a government shutdown isn’t thrilling enough for you, good news: There’s another fiscal crisis just around the corner.

Brad PlumerBrad Plumer covers energy and environmental issues, which ends up including just about everything from climate change to agriculture to urban policy and transportation. Follow him on Twitter at @bradplumer.


TSA Confirms 'Sick Out' Affecting Airports: What to Know Before You Travel During the Shutdown

The government shutdown is having a major impact on the country’s airports. Here’s everything you need to know before you travel.

As the longest shutdown in U.S. history continues, more agencies are feeling its impact. While airlines are privately owned and can continue to operate, an estimated 51,000 TSA agents are among the 800,000 government employees who are expected to show up to work without receiving a paycheck.

Earlier this month, CNN reported that hundreds of agents were calling in sick at airports across America in the wake of the shutdown, something the TSA initially denied. Department of Homeland Security spokesman Tyler Q. Houlton tweeted, “Security operations at airports have not been impacted by a non-existent sick out. CNN has the cell numbers of multiple @TSA public affairs professionals, but rather than validate statistics, they grossly misrepresented them.”

On Tuesday, however, the TSA said in a statement that they are experiencing more than double the normal number of call outs (a national rate of 6.8 percent unscheduled absences, compared to 2.5 percent at this time last year).

Both Miami and Houston International Airports have shut down some TSA checkpoints — with Houston closing an entire terminal — to try and get ahead of potential issues posed by the shutdown, USA Today has reported.

The escalating issues have left many travelers concerned.

According to a poll conducted by airfarewatchdog.com, 62 percent of flyers said they were concerned about their safety during the shutdown, while 47 percent responded that they believe airlines should be required to pay for private security during the pause in government funding.

However, the TSA maintains that flying is as safe as ever.

“Security standards will NOT and have NOT been compromised,” Bilello wrote on Twitter on Jan. 11. “TSA has and will continue to maintain security standards at our nation’s airports. #NotOnOurWatch.”

Even if passengers are weary of flying during the shutdown, they can’t always change their travel plans. If you’re planning on flying during the shutdown, here’s what you should know.

Get to the Airport Earlier Than Usual

While delays vary based on airport, Shannon McMahon, travel expert and editor for SmarterTravel.com tells PEOPLE that travelers should get to the airport around an hour earlier than they nearly would. (TSA recommends two hours for domestic travel and three hours for international travel). “Larger airports have been the first to see long wait times or close terminals as TSA workers stay home,” McMahon says.

Potential wait times depend on the day of the week you’re flying, and weekends and holidays (and holiday weekends, like the one coming up) are busier than flying in the middle of the week.

Regardless of when you’re traveling, “leave extra time to get through security,” McMahon says.

Expedite Your Security Experience

While lines may be long, travelers can sometimes help make their security as streamlined as possible. McMahon recommends making sure you’re following the TSA’s 3-1-1 liquids rule when packing — keeping fluids under 3.4 ounces and in a zip-top quart size bag so passengers can “speed through the line without being stopped.” While in line, McMahon also recommends having easy access to your laptop and other large electronic devices so you can remove them from your carry-on without difficulty and won’t require extra screening.

Don&rsquot Always Trust the Published Wait Times Online

Some airports do post their wait times online. (New York’s LaGuardia is one). Passengers can also share their wait time on the MyTSA app, and view a chart of the average wait times at a specific airport, says McMahon. But, she councils, you shouldn’t rely on them completely. “It’s not a 100 percent guarantee, so it’s better to leave some extra time in case delays suddenly increase,” she says.

Consider that TSA Pre-Check May Not Be Open

If you have TSA pre-check, you might not be able to head to your typical expedited screening lane during the shutdown if there’s a decrease in staff at your airport. “TSA Pre-Check users want to consider whether or not a Pre-Check lane will be available while there are staff shortages,” McMahon says. “It’s a good idea to leave extra time like everyone else.”

Stay Aware and Try to Be Patient

Although TSA ensures that security has not been compromised by the lapse in funding, McMahon says it’s important for travelers to “stay alert at the airport as security workers are busier than usual.”

McMahon reminds travelers to be patient with TSA agents as they’re working without pay to keep everyone safe.


Everything You Need To Know About A Government Shutdown

Related

Update, Sept. 27, 2013: The Justice Department released an updated version of its contingency plan. The infographic has been updated accordingly.

Even if lawmakers fail to head off a government shutdown by 11:59 p.m. this coming Monday, much of the government will continue to function as normal: the mail will still arrive, troops will remain at their posts, and the fathead minnows that the EPA is raising will not be loosed upon the world.

Both federal law and subsequent legal opinions carve out ample exceptions to the across-the-board furloughs that occur when budget authority expires, such as the protection of life and property. Last week, the Obama administration requested that federal agencies update their list of employees and programs that they consider exempt from shutdown orders in advance of a potential lapse.

Those plans are still in the works, according to a statement from Office of Management and Budget spokesperson Emily Cain. But we do have 2011 versions of the shutdown contingency plans, which the administration requested last time Congress was playing shutdown brinkmanship. One can safely assume that most agency priorities have not significantly changed: in many cases the spending bill that is set to expire Monday is the same one that nearly expired two years ago.

The EPA stated in 2011 that it plans to retain personnel to “protect the physical integrity of the test organisms,” like the fathead minnow, which it uses in toxicity studies. The Department of the Interior will continue to operate the Hoover Dam, though national parks will close. The IRS will keep up its undercover operations, and the Commerce Department will continue to predict the weather.

Even if a shutdown is averted, the contingency plans offer an intimate and often surprising picture of what the agencies actually do—like the fact that the Commerce Department is in the meteorology business, or that the Pentagon has something called “bachelor officer quarters” (emergency repairs for which will proceed unmolested in the event of a shutdown).

The following feature lists which programs and functions will close or remain open in seven major agencies, based on the 2011 contingency plans. It is far from a comprehensive list, as some agencies were much more diligent than others in following instructions on how to write their reports. Some were quite detailed about what would not remain open—often with more than a touch of bitterness—while others only specified what would stay open and left the rest to the imagination.


Public Comments Were Also Sidelined During Government Shutdown

Federal employees filed back to work Monday at Environmental Protection Agency headquarters in Washington as the shutdown ended. The EPA is still working to address missed public-comment deadlines.

Heidi Vogt

WASHINGTON—The federal government has one more hangover to deal with from the partial shutdown: what to do about all those deadlines that passed for public comment on proposed regulations.

Public comment periods for 143 proposed regulations ended during the shutdown, according to a search of the government’s regulation website. Others are scheduled to close soon.

For much of the shutdown, it was still possible to submit comments, but the website messages didn’t say that was an option.

“People just automatically assumed that the government was shut down, that they couldn’t do anything,” said Sage Carson, who works for an advocacy group that has been tracking federal regulations related to sexual assault cases on college campuses.

These comment periods, usually from 30 to 60 days, provide a forum for companies, advocacy groups and individuals to raise potential issues with planned regulations.


Answers to your questions about the government shutdown

WASHINGTON — The government shutdown has created a lot of uncertainty as the workweek begins. Here are the answers to some of your questions:

How long will the shutdown last? How close is Congress to reaching a deal?

The shutdown will last until Congress can reach a deal to fund government operations. The next vote is scheduled for 12 p.m. Monday. Negotiations went late into Sunday night but a deal has yet to be reached.

How do federal employees know if they have to report to work?

Federal employees should have already been told whether to report to work on Monday. Government employees fall into three categories on Monday: those who will go to work as usual those who have been furloughed and those who will show up for up to four hours to prepare for the shutdown — providing necessary notices and contact information, securing their files, completing time and attendance records and any other activities to preserve their work.

What do government contractors need to know? Will they get paid for time off during a shutdown?

It depends. If the contract or grant still has funds that have not expired yet, the work may continue as if nothing has changed. If the federal personnel the contractor works with is locked out, the contractor could be as well.

What are federal employees allowed to do while on furlough? Can they still check emails?

Following a government shutdown, furloughed employees cannot use government-issued technology. Checking work laptops, phones and email is prohibited.

Will federal employees be paid?

Excepted employees (those who will continue working regardless of the shutdown) will automatically be paid after the shutdown ends. There are two bills in Congress to pay the people that are furloughed after they do return to work.

Will Congress be paid during the shutdown?

Yes, lawmakers are paid during a shutdown. Ten Democratic senators introduced a bill to withhold pay for members of Congress during the shutdown. Several members of Congress also asked for their individual salaries to be withheld.

What’s open and closed during a shutdown?

Monuments and memorials will remain accessible to anyone who wants to walk around, however National Park Service staff meant to serve visitors will not be there. The U.S. Postal Service’s work will remain uninterrupted. The Library of Congress is closed until further notice. The Smithsonian and the National Zoo will remain open on Monday and will provide updates on what happens afterward.

How is D.C. impacted by a shutdown?

District services will continue unabated during a shutdown, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said last week. There will be no impact to city trash collection, traffic monitoring, first responders or public safety activities. D.C. courts remain open and cases may be filed. However, be warned lovebirds: The marriage bureau is closed as is the child care center.

What about the military? Is it impacted?

Military operations will continue. Troops will continue reporting to work but won’t be paid until Congress approves funding.

What about federal courts?

The federal Judiciary will remain open and can continue operations for about three weeks. Most proceedings and deadlines will occur as scheduled but in cases where an attorney from an executive branch agency is not working, dates may be rescheduled.

Stay with WTOP for the latest developments on the government shutdown.


Watch the video: Τρόφιμα: Οδηγός σωστής συντήρησης (May 2022).


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