Government rolls out shutdown plans

Saturday, September 28, 2013 - 5:00am

 Federal agencies started rolling out their plans Friday for how they would handle a government shutdown.

It's impossible to say yet whether a shutdown will happen. But Congress is still tied up in knots over how to pass even a short-term funding bill to keep the lights on.

If lawmakers fail to do so, one thing is clear: Shutting down the government will be a complex process with too many moving parts to count.

Some parts of the government would be shuttered, while others would remain open. And federal workers and a wide range of government activities would be affected.

To get ready, agencies are identifying services, programs and workers deemed essential, or "excepted" in official speak. Translation: Workers in the business of protecting life and property. They will continue working, though they won't be paid until after the shutdown.

Employees whose jobs are funded by money other than the annual appropriations that Congress is fighting over will keep working as well. So too will presidential appointees.

But all other programs deemed to be non-essential, or "non-excepted," will be shuttered. And workers at those programs will be furloughed without pay.

Here are a few of the plans for next week in the event of a shutdown.

Defense: All active-duty military personnel, as well as active-duty reserve personnel, will stay on the job, the Pentagon said.

A "minimum number" of civilian personnel engaged in essential activities will also continue working through the shutdown.

Civilian personnel involved in non-essential work will be furloughed without pay -- unless money to pay their salaries is drawn from a source other than fiscal year 2014 appropriations.

Those who work during the shutdown will be paid, but not until Congress appropriates funds to do so.

Temporary duty travel will be canceled, unless it's in direct support of the war in Afghanistan or related to safety of life and protection of property or foreign relations. In such cases, written approval is required.

The shutdown could also impact death benefits and emergency payments going to families of any service members killed in action during a shutdown.

Federal courts and justice: Justice will continue to be served.

The court system said it will remain open for business for approximately 10 business days in the event of a shutdown.

It's able to do so on the basis of fees and funds from prior appropriations, according to an earlier report from the Congressional Research Service.

All court proceedings and deadlines would remain in effect unless otherwise advised. The judiciary said it would reassess its funding capacity on or around Oct. 15.

The Department of Justice, meanwhile, said it only plans to furlough about 15% of its 114,486-person workforce.

FHA loans: If you want to apply for a Federal Housing Administration loan or are waiting to hear if your current application has been approved, no dice.

The FHA won't be issuing, underwriting or approving new loans during the shutdown.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development, of which FHA is a part, said it will be furloughing 96% of its workforce.

National museums: The Smithsonian Institution said its 18 museums and the National Zoo would be closed to the public.

It will furlough 84% of its workforce. The other 16% who will be asked to work include employees responsible for the care and protections of the facilities and collections as well as the care and feeding of the animals at the zoo.

Chemical spill investigations: They'll be halted.

The Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board said it would furlough 37 of its 40 staff members.

"There would be no ability to respond to a major incident," managing director Daniel Horowitz told CNN.

The board sees its mission as investigative rather than immediately life-saving, which is why it essentially would shut down until Congress appropriates funding.


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