Government Shutdown Would Mean All But Essential Services Would Close The mail will get delivered, Social Security checks will go out, and the National Park Service says it will try to keep parks accessible if there is a shutdown. But most federal agencies would close.

Open Or Closed? Here's What Happens In A Partial Government Shutdown

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Unless there's a last-minute agreement, the federal government is about to partially shut down. Funding for most agencies expires at midnight tonight Eastern Time. So what exactly does that mean? NPR's Brian Naylor is here to tell us. Hey, Brian.


MCEVERS: What is a partial shutdown?

NAYLOR: Right. So here we go again. We've been through this before.


NAYLOR: What it means essentially is that for many government agencies, the money has run out or will run out at midnight. And so they'll have to close. Hundreds of thousands of employees will be told not to come to work. But the partial bit means that other functions will continue, and many hundreds of thousands of employees will be on the job. They just won't be getting paid for the most part. But - I'm sorry. Go ahead.

MCEVERS: No, go ahead. I was just going to say, where would we see the biggest difference if there is a shutdown?

NAYLOR: Well, so right now it seems as though the biggest difference from what happened in the last shutdown in 2013 is the national parks and monuments here in Washington and across the country will remain open. It was a very visible sign four years ago that things were not operating as usual. And it was pretty controversial. A group of veterans came to Washington to see the World War II memorial and, with the help of some Republican congressmen, pushed aside the barriers blocking their access. So the Trump administration doesn't want to see that kind of a scene playing out this time. So the parks will be open across the country. But there's a big caveat. Many restrooms and visitor center buildings will be closed, and some areas of the parks won't be open to protect cultural artifacts and things.

MCEVERS: What about other government services that people rely on?

NAYLOR: Well, so, you know, there may not be a lot of things that people will notice. For instance, the post office will be open. Mail delivery will continue because the Postal Service has its own revenue stream. Other agencies and functions of the government will be considered, quote, unquote, "essential." For instance, so the borders still be patrolled, and the air traffic controllers and the TSA officers will still be on the job. They just won't be getting paid. Social Security checks will continue to go out. And active duty military service members will carry out their duties, but they won't be getting paid either.

MCEVERS: There are also other federal workers who are wondering if, you know, they'll be going to work not just in Washington but across the country. I mean, what kind of guidance are they getting?

NAYLOR: Well, it's been a little muddled so far. The last time, there were sort of clear-cut rules and things were posted. This time it's a little bit more ad hoc. Most employees will find out formally over the weekend that there will be a shutdown and they won't be required to come into work. I spoke with Max Stier at the Partnership for Public Service, who says for federal employees, that's really disruptive.

MAX STIER: There is no bigger morale destroyer than a government shutdown for people who care about serving the public. It is devastating. It's devastating for them. It's devastating for the people they serve. It's devastating for our economy. It's a lose all the way around.

MCEVERS: That was Max Stier with the Partnership for Public Service. And thanks to you, NPR's Brian Naylor.

NAYLOR: Thank you.

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