Shutdown Impacts Beyond the Beltway
by Jessica Schieder, 10/2/2013
While it’s common to equate the federal government with the Washington, D.C. metro area, the federal government provides services all over the country. Because of this, the shutdown’s impact will ripple throughout the country – even before considering the broader economic impacts that would come if it is prolonged.
Unless bills are passed to end the lapse in government funding across the government or for parts of it, the government shutdown will close national parks, access to federal loans and mortgages will be affected, and hundreds of thousands of employees across all 50 states will be forced to stay home without pay.
Below is a list of government services that will be directly impacted or halted completely during the government shutdown:
Education: Pell Grants and Federal Direct Loans for education will be processed, but a government shutdown means there will be fewer employees and resources for processing. If the shutdown continues, these funds could be increasingly delayed, jeopardizing funding for students.
Environment: Of the Environmental Protection Agency’s more than 16,000 employees, only 1,024 will be working during the government shutdown. Outside of the EPA’s headquarters, regional offices are located in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Kansas City, Denver, San Francisco, and Seattle.
Health and Human Services: More than half of the Department of Health and Human Services’ staff will be furloughed. In the event of a disease outbreak, the Atlanta, Georgia-based Centers on Disease Control and Prevention would have “significantly reduced capacity.” The National Institutes of Health (NIH) will no longer admit new patients. Programs for senior nutrition, including Meals on Wheels, would be defunded. All other programs depending on discretionary grants, including Head Start, would be cut off from any new funding.
National Parks and Museums: National parks, as well as almost all Smithsonian institutions, will be closed to the public. Closures at some of the nation’s most beloved tourist attractions may be a mere annoyance for some, but, for Mike Cassesso and MaiLien Le, who planned to marry at the Thomas Jefferson Memorial this weekend, the park closures will likely mean cancelling their wedding scheduled for Saturday.
Nutrition: No new federal funds will be available for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). The shutdown means approximately 9 million poor women and their children will no longer have access to breastfeeding support, nutrition education, and health food vouchers. Remaining WIC funds in most states will run out in approximately one week, after which point infants may go hungry. Rev. Douglas Greenaway of the National WIC Association commented, “There’ll be no infant formula and no breastfeeding support. If the baby doesn’t latch, that’s it.”
Social Security and Veterans Benefits: The beneficiaries of these programs would still be entitled to benefits. However, restricted resources would mean that checks would be increasingly delayed. The Department of Veterans Affairs has facilities in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The largest Veterans Affairs integrated health care organization is the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System located in Los Angeles, California.
More than a third of all employees of the Veterans Benefits Administration will be furloughed, potentially affecting the processing of compensation to veterans, the handling of military pensions, and the availability of vocational rehabilitation and employment services, among other services. A number of veterans’ cemeteries abroad will close, including the Normandy American Cemetery in France at the site of the D-Day invasion.
Transportation: Approximately 95 percent of the employees of the Federal Transit Administration will be furloughed. Employees working on the Hurricane Sandy recovery and in the Lower Manhattan Recovery Office will be retained, but only 28 of the Administration’s 529 employees will report to work. Furloughed employees include employees of the Transit Safety and Oversight authority, which regulates the safety of mass transit in the United States.