How the Government Shutdown Affects the Tri-State

The Statue of Liberty is closed, but your mail will still be delivered

Tuesday, Oct 1, 2013  |  Updated 11:00 PM EDT
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A closed Statue of Liberty might get the most attention Tuesday, but the federal government shutdown will have consequences elsewhere in the tri-state in the coming days. Andrew Siff reports.

NBC 4 New York

A closed Statue of Liberty might get the most attention Tuesday, but the federal government shutdown will have consequences elsewhere in the tri-state in the coming days. Andrew Siff reports.

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The Statue of Liberty is closed under the federal government shutdown that began just after midnight, but mail is still being delivered and Social Security benefits are still being paid.

The shutdown began when Congress missed a deadline to pass a spending plan Monday.

Emily Enfinger, visiting the Statue of Liberty Monday, said politicians need to find a way to work together.

"They should be willing to compromise, both sides, and it discourages me that they don't seem to be able to do that," she said. "They're not doing their job as far as I'm concerned."

Military personnel and other essential federal employees will go to work Tuesday without pay. Other workers are headed home for an indefinite furlough.

""It's really a shame that things aren't working better between Democrats and Republicans to try to keep the government open," said New York resident Katie Rogers.

Here is a look at how services are being affected by a government shutdown:

AIR TRAVEL

Federal air traffic controllers remain on the job and airport screeners keep funneling passengers through security checkpoints. Federal inspectors continue enforcing safety rules.

INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL

The State Department continues processing foreign applications for visas and U.S. applications for passports, since fees are collected to finance those services. Embassies and consulates overseas continue to provide services to American citizens.

BENEFIT PAYMENTS

Social Security and Medicare benefits keep coming, but there could be delays in processing new disability applications. Unemployment benefits still go out.

FEDERAL COURTS

Federal courts continue operating normally for about 10 business days after the start of a shutdown, roughly until the middle of October. If the shutdown continues, the judiciary would have to begin furloughs of employees whose work is not considered essential. But cases would continue to be heard.

MAIL

Deliveries continue as usual because the U.S. Postal Service receives no tax dollars for day-to-day operations. It relies on income from stamps and other postal fees to keep running.

RECREATION

All national parks are closed, including the Statue of Liberty in New York. Ellis Island, another federally operated park, has been closed for repairs since Sandy.

FOOD SAFETY

The Food and Drug Administration will handle high-risk recalls, but suspends most routine safety inspections. Federal meat inspections are expected to proceed as usual.

FOOD ASSISTANCE

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, known as WIC, could shut down. The program provides supplemental food, health care referrals and nutrition education for pregnant women, mothers and their children.

School lunches and breakfasts will continue to be served, and food stamps, known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, continue to be distributed. But several smaller feeding programs do not have the money to operate.

TAXES

Americans still have to pay their taxes and file federal tax returns, but the Internal Revenue Service says it will suspend all audits. Got questions? Sorry, the IRS says taxpayer services, including toll-free help lines, will be shut as well.

LOANS

Many low-to-moderate income borrowers and first-time homebuyers seeking government-backed mortgages could face delays during the shutdown. The Federal Housing Administration, which guarantees about 30 percent of home mortgages, won't underwrite or approve any new loans during the shutdown. 

SCIENCE

NASA will continue to keep workers at Mission Control in Houston and elsewhere to support the International Space station, where two Americans and four others are deployed. The National Weather Service will keep forecasting weather and issuing warnings and the National Hurricane Center continues to track storms. The scientific work of the U.S. Geological Survey may be halted.

HOMELAND SECURITY

The majority of the Department of Homeland Security's employees are expected to stay on the job, including uniformed agents and officers at the country's borders and ports of entry, members of the Coast Guard, Transportation Security Administration officers, Secret Service personnel and other law enforcement agents and officers. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services employees continue to process green card applications.

MILITARY

The military's 1.4 million active duty personnel  stay on duty, but their paychecks could be delayed. About half of the Defense Department's civilian employees will be furloughed.

The U.S. Military Academy has stopped giving tours and furloughed some civilian employees as officials tried to minimize the effect of the government shutdown on cadets.

West Point officials said Tuesday their faculty is 70 percent military personnel not affected by the shutdown. They called the situation "fluid" and could not say what portion of the academy's 3,000 civilian employees, which include professors, would be furloughed.

Officials said they are focused on minimizing the impact on classroom instruction and military training while maintaining safety.

Tours of West Point were suspended and the visitors' center and the commissary were closed.

With the Defense Department temporarily suspending sports competitions at the service academies, the Army sports website said the men's soccer game with LIU Brooklyn on Tuesday was cancelled.

PRISONS

All 116 federal prisons would remain open, and criminal litigation would proceed.

VETERANS SERVICES

Most services offered through the Department of Veterans Affairs will continue because lawmakers approve money one year in advance for the VA's health programs. Veterans are still be able to visit hospitals for inpatient care, get mental health counseling at vet centers or get prescriptions filled at VA health clinics. 

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