The countdown to shutdown clock continues to tick ominously. Anxiety and uncertainty grow as the midnight deadline approaches with no sign of a budget agreement. Federal employees, contractors, local business owners and tourists wait for news on whether offices, properties and services will hang “closed for business” signs on its doors.
While politicians negotiate, administrators attempt to mitigate some of the uncertainty with plans in the event of a shutdown. Here is what we know:
What Monday morning brings depends entirely on what is deemed “essential.” Work done in and with the military, law enforcement and safety agencies will continue. Who will be labeled essential will remain largely unknown until Monday morning.
Airports and courthouses will continue to operate. The Smithsonian, National Zoo and all National Park Service properties, including tourist destinations in D.C. will close. Metro may reduce the number of cars on its trains.
D.C. residents were none too happy to discover how much of their city services are considered federal. The Department of Motor Vehicles will close. The Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, the agency that issues permits for events, will close as well. Trash pick up will stop for one week, and street cleaning will cease. Public libraries will shutter, and the Transportation Department will only make emergency repairs.
As important as services and entertainment are, the over-riding concern remains money.
In response to growing calls for answers, Virginia Rep. James P. Moran Jr. hosted a town hall meeting last night. As reported by The Washington Post, Moran cautioned federal employees to not count on being paid for any time off work.
The Defense Department released a statement on the shutdown’s impact on pay, reiterating that without a budget no paychecks would be disbursed for work done after April 8. For contractors, however, the check may be in the mail. Contractor payments depend on contract terms, funding and work performed.
“We have contracting officers [at the agencies], but they don’t really know what’s going to happen, and until they know they can’t tell us anything,” he said. “Some of our people won’t be able to work. We’re hoping not everybody. We have folks supporting the military. You can’t just shut that down. But we also have contracts we’re convinced will be turned off.”
The IRS still wants its share. The tax filing deadline remains April 18, however, paper processing, including refunds, would cease.
It’s not all doom and gloom. The 2011 budget may be stuck in traffic, but the Cherry Blossom Parade will go on. Also, good news for the parking challenged: D.C. won’t be issuing any parking violations.