With the museums closed, the National Mall may be a good deal less crowded than normal this week.
A government shutdown will have far-reaching consequences for many in the D.C. area, but exactly what is going to continue to run and what will be shut down varies widely.
- Metro announced on Monday morning that they will stay open and operate on a normal weekday service schedule during the government shutdown. Further service changes are possible, but for now, non-government workers can enjoy less crowded trains for a couple days.
- Essential city services like public schools, fire and police departments, and other public safety officials will be on the job.
- Mail would be delivered, and Post Offices will continue to operate as normal.
- There should be no effects at area airports, as federal air traffic controllers and airport screeners will remain on the job.
Federal inspectors would continue enforcing safety rules.
- Mayor Vincent Gray has signaled his intention to keep the District government in operation by dipping into the city's contingency reserve fund. If the D.C. Council backs the decision, "non-essential" local services like trash pickup, the Department of Motor Vehicles, recreation centers, and local libraries will remain open for business.
- The State Department would continue processing foreign applications for
visas and U.S. applications for passports, since fees are collected to
finance those services. Embassies and consulates overseas would continue
to provide services to American citizens.
- Federal courts would 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.
- 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 would continue to process
green card applications.
- All 116 federal prisons would remain open, and criminal litigation would proceed.
- The National Weather Service will continue to deliver weather forecasts and warnings, though according to NBC Washington, the weather this week should be pleasant.
- While Amtrak receives federal subsidies, it is not a federal agency, and will continue to operate as normal.
- All national parks will be closed, as will the Smithsonian museums. That will include the National Zoo, where not only will the facility itself be off-limits to visitors, but the much-beloved Panda Cam will go dark temporarily.
- It's not a good day to see the other historic sites, like the Lincoln, World War II and FDR memorials. All entrances will be blocked off and fountains shut off.
- Visitors using overnight
campgrounds or other park facilities would be given 48 hours to make
alternate arrangements and leave the park.
- New patients would not be accepted into clinical research at the
National Institutes of Health, but current patients would continue to
receive care. Medical research at the NIH would be disrupted and some
studies would be delayed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
would be severely limited in spotting or investigating disease
outbreaks such as the flu or that mysterious MERS virus from the Middle
If you have questions about the possible closure of other services and agencies, let us know in the comments.