What is a ‘Government Shutdown’?
The closure of non-essential offices of the government due to lack of approval on the government programs budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Approval is reached if Congress passes all of the spending bills regarding the federal budget. If an agreement is not achieved, a government shutdown will close many federally run operations, and halt work for federal employees unless they are considered essential. Some organizations still stay open by running on cash reserves, but once these run out, if a solution is not found, they will also close. The shutdown stays in effect until a compromise is reached and a budget bill is passed.
Lawmakers helped the veterans get past the barriers, but others around the country were not so lucky as tourists were blocked from their destinations and more than 800,000 federal employees were told to stay home.
Cleveland Faggard, 89, of Moss Point, Miss., who had been an aviation machinist for the Navy, had helped push past a black metal blockade after about a dozen Republican members of Congress arrived, responding to e-mailed pleas from the veterans. “I was just praying to the Lord,” Mr. Faggard said. “He took care of it.”
Around the country, barricades and padlocks closed off access to federal facilities as the vast machinery of the federal government began systematically shutting down operations for the first time in nearly two decades.
Employees feared they could be out of work for weeks, and many of them were angry. “Once the mortgage payment comes around and I don’t get the paycheck, it’s going to be a problem,” said Sherilyn Garnett, 44, a federal prosecutor from Altadena, Calif. “It’s stupid. It’s really stupid.”
In Washington, Tina Miller, who works in law enforcement for the federal government, said the shutdown would have a wide impact. “It’s going to have effects for everybody and the community, everything,” she said. “I’m not sure why they wouldn’t think of that.”
Americans seeking a variety of services at federal buildings found the doors shuttered, with no indication of when they might reopen.
When Sheila Caraway, 23, arrived at the Internal Revenue Service office in downtown Los Angeles, she was turned away by a security officer who explained that parts of the government had been shut down. She left the I.R.S. without the tax refund that she had hoped would help pay for her cable TV bill.
“This is crazy. I don’t like it. It’s been over a year, and I haven’t gotten my refund,” Ms. Caraway said, explaining that she had not followed the recent political struggles in Washington. “I think everyone is crazy right now.”
Among the most noticeable impacts of the first shutdown of the Internet era: Many complex government Web sites were suddenly replaced by one-page notices like the one at Census.gov, which declared that “due to the lapse in government funding, census.gov sites, services, and all online survey collection requests will be unavailable until further notice.”
The reality of the shutdown began to become clear early Tuesday. Children’s playgrounds in small pocket parks around Capitol Hill were closed. The military service academies suspended all intercollegiate sports competitions. The National Zoo’s online “Panda Cam” stopped showing images of Mei Xiang’s latest cub. Officials stopped giving tours of Alcatraz prison in San Francisco Bay.
Haiyan Wang’s 9-year-old nephew, Tony, had been “wanting to go inside the Statue of Liberty for a long time,” Ms. Wang said Tuesday morning at Liberty State Park in Jersey City. She said her visiting relatives did not really comprehend what had happened in Washington because “the Chinese government never closes down.”
Mail delivery continued as usual, financed by fees rather than the federal budget. Amtrak trains continued to run and officials said meat inspectors, border control agents and Transportation Security Administration screeners would stay on the job.
After a general retreat on Monday, global investors reacted calmly on Tuesday in the hours after Congressional negotiations collapsed, as investors focused on the Oct. 17 deadline for raising the debt ceiling. Stocks on Wall Street closed slightly higher, while European and Asian stocks were mixed. Bond and foreign exchange markets were quiet.
Those looking for financial data to assess the impact of a shutdown will have to do it without help from the Congressional Budget Office and the Census Bureau, both of which are closing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is scheduled to issue its monthly jobs report this Friday, is also closing and said the jobs report would most likely be postponed.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission said it would stop recalls of products that do not present an imminent threat to consumer safety. The Food and Drug Administration, which inspects the majority of food Americans eat, suspended routine establishment inspections and monitoring of imported foods and drugs.
WASHINGTON — If there was a symbol on Tuesday of America’s pent-up frustration with a gridlocked political system, it was this: Scores of aging World War II and Vietnam veterans pushing past barricades to honor their fallen comrades at a memorial closed by a government shutdown.
The veterans arrived in Washington from Mississippi and Iowa, having spent thousands of dollars to charter “honor flights” to the capital. But like those of many others across the country, their plans collided with the reality of a Congress frozen by ideological disputes and unable to agree on how to keep the government open.
The Centers for Disease Control furloughed about 68 percent of its staff and said the shutdown would significantly reduce its capacity to respond to food-borne illnesses and disease outbreaks. Federal Communications Commission officials said the agency would send all but about 38 of its 1,716 employees home for the duration of the shutdown.
At the Justice Department, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. pledged to give back a portion of his salary in solidarity with his employees. Meanwhile, a federal judge denied a shutdown-related request from the Department of Justice to delay the antitrust case merger trial of American Airlines and US Airways, citing the need for an expeditious trial.
Traveling on Tuesday in Seoul, South Korea, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel called the shutdown “nonsensical” and “needless” and said it would lead to the immediate furlough of about 400,000 civilian employees. (Mr. Obama signed legislation late Monday night ensuring that uniformed members of the military will get paid during the shutdown.)
“It does cast a very significant pall over America’s credibility with our allies when this kind of thing happens,” Mr. Hagel told reporters.
Officials informed lawmakers that about 72 percent of the intelligence community’s civilian work force were furloughed. Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, angrily denounced the shutdown as “the biggest gift that we could possibly give our enemies.”
The crowds were lighter than normal early Tuesday at L’Enfant Plaza in Washington, where there are a number of federal agencies. Phillip Davenport, a management analyst at the Federal Aviation Administration, who was deemed an essential employee, said he was expecting a heavier workload.
During the last shutdown 17 years ago, Mr. Davenport was on active duty in the military, based in Alaska, he said. “Back then, I don’t remember for sure, but we came to work regardless of whether we were paid or not,” he said.
About 8 a.m., the steps of the Lincoln Memorial were being taped off by National Park police, metal barricades were erected and tourists were being turned away. Across Washington, commercial establishments sought ways to try to minimize the impact, with bars and restaurants advertising “shutdown specials.”
At Z-Burger, a popular restaurant in the Washington area, owners pledged to make good on their promise for a free burger for every furloughed federal worker. In a Twitter post, it said: “AlmostHere IF #GovernmentShutdown #FREE #Burgers.”
Reporting was contributed by Dan Frosch from Denver; Patrick McGeehan from New Jersey; Kim Severson and Alan Blinder from Atlanta; Jennifer Steinhauer from Seoul, South Korea; Emmarie Huetteman, Ron Nixon, Charlie Savage, Eric Schmitt and Ashley Southall from Washington; Jad Mouawad and Malia Wollan from San Francisco; Ian Lovett from Los Angeles; and Victoria Shannon from New York.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction: