Support Skift’s Independent JournalismMake a Contribution Now
Visitors to national parks will be prevented from using the full-service restrooms.
Tourists won’t be able to get into the National Air and Space Museum after Sunday.
The Federal Aviation Administration will stop issuing approvals for drones.
But the Federal Aviation Administration’s air-traffic division will continue guiding flights and the Transportation Security Administration will operate airport security checkpoints, according to the agencies’ plans.
The State Department issued guidance on Friday saying that passport and visa services, as well as other agency functions, will stay open until the money runs out.
At first glance, the tangible consequences of the latest government shutdown may seem less than overwhelming. After all, the mail will still get delivered, airport control towers will still be staffed and the border patrol will continue to guard the country. But in ways large and small, the shutdown that began at midnight Friday could touch almost every aspect of American life.
Parks & Public Lands
The administration is taking steps to mitigate the effect on national parks, which generally were closed in past shutdowns.
“National parks and other public lands will remain as accessible as possible while still following all applicable laws and procedures,” said Interior Department spokeswoman Heather Swift.
- The Trump administration is planning to keep some parks and concessions open. Most outdoor “wilderness-style restrooms,” like composting toilets and pits, and open roads should remain open; campgrounds, full-service restrooms and other services that require staffing and maintenance won’t be. Private concessionaires may be permitted to continue operations, provided they find a way to remove snow and trash without government staff.
- Any closures pose a threat to local economies that depend on tourism dollars tied to park visits — from the vendors inside the facilities to the hotels, stores and restaurants outside of them. This is the peak season for some sites, including Death Valley and the Everglades. During the 2013 government closure, five governors agreed to pick up the tab and spend state dollars to reopen at least a dozen national parks.
- National forests will remain accessible, but are not officially open, said Agriculture Department spokesman Tim Murtaugh in an interview. Visitors centers will be closed and rangers will not be on the job. Still, law enforcement will continue to be present in the forests for visitors who enter at their own risk, he said.
The transportation system will function at close to its normal level, at least initially.
- The Federal Aviation Administration’s air-traffic division will continue guiding flights and the Transportation Security Administration will operate airport security checkpoints, according to the agencies’ plans.
- While FAA’s aviation safety inspectors will initially be furloughed, the agency’s plan is to gradually bring those employees back to work as they are needed to ensure airlines and other aircraft operators are safe, the agency said.
- The FAA will cease approvals for drone operations requiring waivers, development of new air-traffic technology and training new air-traffic controllers.
- A shutdown will slow work on the FAA’s certification of new aircraft. Work on approvals for two Boeing Co. models, which are expected to be completed within days, could be affected, said the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, a union representing FAA certification workers.
- The agencies monitoring the borders — Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement — are largely exempt from having to furlough employees during a shutdown.
- A majority of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s 560 employees will be sent home, as the agency suspends enforcement, defects investigations, rule-making work and some research efforts.
- Federal Transit Administration grants are to be halted, as are grants for high-speed rail projects administered by the Federal Railroad Administration.
- Most investigative work at the National Transportation Safety Board will cease; the agency can bring back teams temporarily to investigate accidents with “significant casualties” or that identify urgent risks, the agency said.
- Amtrak, the government subsidized passenger train system, will continue normal operations, the railroad said on Friday.
Law Enforcement & Courts
The Department of Homeland Security will remain largely unaffected, with 87 percent of its 232,860 employees deemed exempt from the shutdown. The department includes the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Coast Guard and the Secret Service.
Passports and Visas
The State Department issued guidance on Friday saying that passport and visa services, as well as other agency functions, will stay open until the money runs out. Many bureaus in the department have reserves because they’re funded every few years or with money that can be saved indefinitely rather than spent within a year.
- “The department will continue as many normal operations as possible,” said the guidance, posted on the State Department website. “Operating status and available funding will need to be monitored continuously and closely, and planning for a lapse in appropriations must be continued.”
- The State Department says no new travel or “representational events” should be arranged. However, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson hasn’t decided yet on whether to cancel a trip to Europe planned for next week.
- A shutdown is unlikely to affect U.S. involvement in talks next week in Montreal on a new North American Free Trade Agreement, since negotiators from the U.S. Trade Representative’s office would be designated as essential staff.
–With assistance from Catherine Traywick Alan Levin Jennifer A. Dlouhy Susan Decker Ari Natter Nick Wadhams Josh Eidelson Greg Stohr Nafeesa Syeed Chris Strohm Ben Bain Naureen S. Malik Jennifer Epstein Andrew Mayeda Saleha Mohsin Alan Bjerga David McLaughlin David Marino and Sahil Kapur
©2018 Bloomberg L.P.