What's Essential, and What's Not Amid Shutdown

A lot of tourists are set to be disappointed as non-essential services shut down
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 21, 2018 6:07 AM CST
Visitors to the Statue of Liberty take in the sight from battery park, Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018, in New York. The National Park Service announced that the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island would be closed...   (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
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(Newser) – Symbols of American promise have turned into emblems of American dysfunction amid a shutdown that has forced scores of federal agencies and outposts to close their doors. The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island turned away visitors in New York, due to what the National Park Service called "a lapse in appropriations," reports the AP. In Philadelphia, crowds of tourists were told that Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were signed, and the Liberty Bell are closed. Funds ran out at midnight Friday, leaving 48 hours before the most dramatic effect—the furloughing of nearly a million federal employees—goes into effect. As in shutdowns past, federal services were carved into two categories—essential and non-essential—with the former set to carry on. Mail will be delivered and Social Security checks still go out, the air traffic control system stays up and running, as do the FBI, Customs and Border Protection, and veterans hospitals. Other effects:

  • Football: The American Forces Network, which broadcasts American radio and television programming in Europe and other locations outside the US, said services would not be available. That sparked angry reactions, with several noting that the NFL conference championships will be played Sunday. "During NFL PLAYOFFS?!" one post read.
  • Also on hold: New veterans benefits claims to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's support for the seasonal flu program. At the Internal Revenue Service, more than half of 80,565 employees will be barred from working just as tax season is beginning and the agency is dealing with sweeping changes made by the new GOP tax law.
  • DC: There were few signs of shutdown at the Capitol, where lawmakers spent most of the day making speeches about the dispute. A women's march carried on as planned, under the eye of US Park Police protection.
  • In the South: Martin Luther King Jr.'s childhood home, historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, and the visitor center at MLK National Historic Site in Atlanta are closed. And Big Cypress National Preserve, Everglades National Park, and other federally managed natural areas in Florida will be partially closed.
  • Old Ironsides: The USS Constitution, the world's oldest commissioned warship, will remain open to tourists at the Charlestown Navy Yard in Boston.

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