What’s open, what’s closed if the government shuts down

In 2013, many National Parks closed during a shutdown. This time, the Interior Department says if the government shuts down, most open land will remain accessible. (National Park Service photo)

The government is set to cease operations at Friday at 8 p.m. Alaska time if Congress can’t reach an agreement on spending. How will that affect you?

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These things continue as usual

  • The U.S. Postal Service will operate normally.
  • Active-duty military go to work as normal.
  • The Veterans Health Administration plans to keep all its appointments. So does the Alaska Native Medical Center.
  • The National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will not erect special barriers blocking access to open land at parks and wildlife refuges. As a rule of thumb, unless there’s a gate that closes during non-business hours, you should be able enter.
  • Federal courts have enough money to continue operations for about three weeks.
  • Social Security checks will still go out, and applications will be processed, at least at the beginning.
  • Weather forecasting will continue, and the Federal Aviation Administration will continue to operate.
  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says it plans to carry out fisheries management activities and enforcement.

What will change

  • Many civilian Defense Department employees will be furloughed.
  • National Park visitor centers will close. Parks and refuge personnel won’t be on duty, except for emergency services.
  • Many federal workers will be furloughed.

Will the federal workers and military members who have to work during the shutdown get paid?

  • Yes, most just got their mid-month paychecks. The military will have no gap in pay until Feb. 1. If a shutdown lasts longer, the agencies incur an obligation to pay their employees, and they will be paid once Congress resumes funding the government.
  • In 2013, Congress passed emergency funding during a 16-day shutdown, so the military paychecks arrived on time.

What about the furloughed employees?

That’s up to Congress, but after past shutdowns, federal employees got backpay.

Can federal workers volunteer to work their jobs?

No. By law, the agencies are not allowed to accept voluntary service from their employees. 

Anything else?

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has a public hearing Tuesday on the Trump administration’s draft plan for offshore drilling. If the government shuts down, that meeting is off.

Reporters Rachel Waldholz, Elizabeth Harball, Zachariah Hughes, Anne Hillman and Elizabeth Jenkins compiled this information.