April 8, 2011 11:28:00 AM
If brinkmanship continues in Washington and the federal government "shuts down" after 12:01 a.m. Saturday, some federal offices in Mississippi will close, some will remain open and some remained uncertain even as the clock ticked down.
Mail will continue to run and Social Security, Medicare and child-nutrition payments will still be made, at least for a while, the White House Office of Management and Budget said Thursday. Federal law enforcement, military and other essential federal employees will continue working, but they might not get paid until later. Federal parks would close, as would most VA benefits customer-service centers. Your taxes are still due April 18, but your refund may be delayed. The IRS''s 400 service centers would close and the agency would be unable to process paper filings. The federal court system said it can operate for about two weeks, but beyond that is uncertain.
A survey released Thursday by the Government Business Council said of 1,200 federal employees surveyed, 56 percent were still unaware of their agency''s plans for a shutdown, and about half said they don''t know whether they would have to report to work during a shutdown.
Unless you''re a federal employee, though, you may not notice much at first except closed offices.
Federal courts will stay open, at least while they have operating funds. The Post Office will be open because it''s not dependent on government revenues. But the IRS will close -- meaning that, unless it was filed electronically, the refund check will have to wait.
Social Security checks will go out.
The Natchez Trace Parkway, which is a national park, also would remain open -- but only the road. Its visitors centers would shut down, as would its administrative offices, parks, campgrounds and picnic areas, according to parkway Superintendent Cam Sholley.
Delays or halts also are likely for federal-grant funded state programs, such as higher education, research and law enforcement training.
A government shutdown probably would stop federally funded project work on highways and roads rather quickly, Mississippi Department of Transportation District Engineer Bill Jamieson said Thursday.
Jamieson said projects would run out of money because most depend on state funds spent first, followed by reimbursement from federal sources. The state cannot sustain the work without the reimbursement, Jamieson explained.
Projects like work on cable median barriers on U.S. Highways 78 and 82 in north Mississippi would be affected, Jamieson said. The shutdown also would stop federally funded overlay projects.
Work that''s state funded would continue.
Nationwide, about 800,000 federal employees would be furloughed during the shutdown. Only those deemed critical to the protection of life and property would continue working, and they''d be paid retroactively after government gears up again.
Those sent home also could get paid retroactively, but only with congressional and presidential approval.
Shutdown''s Effects On Government Agencies
If Congress remains in a stalemate over a spending plan or stopgap funding, a federal government "shutdown" would begin at 12:01 a.m. Saturday. The White House provided a "snapshot" of agencies and services that would be affected, but said for more details, "contact the relevant federal agency directly."
· U.S. Postal Service: Would continue all operations, and pay workers from revenue it generates
· Federal Aviation Administration: Would keep the air-traffic-control system running
· Social Security: Checks would be sent to beneficiaries
· Federal law enforcement: Would continue services, as Would prisons
· Military: Would continue operations, although some civilian employees would be furloughed and pay could be delayed; military-retiree payments would continue
· Medicare/Medicaid: Payments to beneficiaries would continue, at least temporarily
· Food and drug monitoring: Would continue
· Congressional offices: Would either close or be cut to skeleton staffs in Washington and locally
· Federal courts: Would continue for up to two weeks, then have to limit operations
· National Weather Service: Would continue monitoring, alerts and forecasts
· Federal Housing Administration: Would halt endorsement of mortgage loans
· National parks and forests: Would be closed
· IRS: Would continue processing payments, but those filing paper returns would not receive refunds, and customer-service centers would close. Tax returns would still be due April 18
· HUD: Community Development Block Grant payments to state and local governments would cease
· Farm loans: Would cease
· FEMA: Flood-mitigation and flood-insurance operations would be suspended, but disaster operations would continue
· VA: Medical services for veterans would continue; most Veterans Benefits Administration customer-support services would be suspended
· Small Business Administration: Loans would stop