Federal government shutdown begins, Hawaii Island affected

Photo of the U.S. Capitol by Martin Falbisoner via Wikipedia
Photo of the U.S. Capitol by Martin Falbisoner via Wikipedia

Photo of the U.S. Capitol by Martin Falbisoner via Wikipedia

HAWAII ISLAND – Shutdown procedures are being executed across the United States tonight, after Congress failed to reach an agreement on a budget before Monday’s midnight deadline. It is the first federal shutdown in nearly two decades.

The Republican controlled House and the Democrat controlled Senate have been playing political hot potato with the budget. The House had tied a one year delay on the start of Obamacare into their version of the spending plan, which was unsuccessful in the Senate.

President Obama Makes a Statement, just a few hours before the shutdown

“This Is About Fairness” – Speaker John Boehner

Hawaii’s national parks and monuments will now have to close, which could deal a blow to local tourism. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is the biggest visitor attraction on the island. According to an official summary of the contingency plan issued by the Department of the Interior:

Services and programs that will remain operational.

  • Law enforcement including the U.S. Park Police and emergency and disaster assistance.
  • Firefighting and monitoring.
  • Border and coastal protection and surveillance.
  • Limited management of ongoing projects that are funded from non-lapsing appropriations.
  • Access to through roads.

Services and programs that will be ceased.

  • All national parks will be closed and secured.
  • Visitor centers and other facilities will be closed.
  • Education programs and special events will be canceled.
  • Permits for special events will be rescinded.
  • Guests staying in hotels and campgrounds will be notified of the closure and given 48 hours to make alternate arrangements and leave the park.

The United States Geological Survey will take a hit, but the active Kilauea volcano will still be monitored. From the USGS contingency plan fact sheet:

Services and Programs that would remain operational:

  • Emergency Flood Response to include flood forecast & flood warnings and providing data to emergency flood managers
  • Earthquake Hazards Program 24/7 Monitoring
  • Volcano Observatories: Monitor on-going volcanic activity
  • Biological Threat Coordination: Emergency Response in event of wildlife mortality event or pandemic
  • Landsat 7 and 8 Satellite Operations
  • Scientific Laboratoriesto remain open on limited basis tomaintain operations of critical and costly research experiments and ensure proper functioning of equipment to maintain integrity of samples
  • National Ice Core Labs (NICL): Maintain one-of-a-kind facility forstoring meteoric ice cores essential for research
  • Maintenance of Nuclear Reactor
  • Animal caretaking
  • Detection and analysis of zoonotic threats in wildlife

Services and programs that would cease:

  • Collecting, monitoring, analyzing, and providing scientific understanding about natural resource conditions, issues, and problems
  • Carrying out large-scale, multi-disciplinary investigations to provide impartial scientific information to resource managers, planners, and other customers.
  • Online accessto publications,maps, and data will be limited
  • Water quality data will not be received, analyzed or disseminated to the public

Elected lawmakers shared their thoughts.

“It is extremely unfortunate,” said Acting Governor Shan Tsutsui, “that Congress was unable to reach agreement on a federal spending plan because a federal shutdown will ultimately negatively impact all states and could derail economic recovery. Governor Abercrombie’s Administration, including his financial team, has put forth tremendous effort over the last three years to improve the State of Hawaii’s financial condition by making tough choices that have put us on the path towards a healthy economy. We will continue to examine the potential impact of the shutdown on our State.”

“Despite knowing that a government shutdown would hurt seniors, veterans, families, and dedicated public servants, as well as put our economic well-being at risk, House Republicans have stubbornly refused to agree to fund the federal government,” said U.S. Senator Brian Schatz via a media release. “Due to their recklessness, the United States government has been forced to shutdown. Every moment that the government remains closed endangers our economy and American families across the country. I will keep working to pass a Continuing Resolution that reopens the government.”

“A government shutdown will have wide-ranging impacts that will affect tens of thousands of Hawai‘i residents,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard. “Between myself, my team in Hawai‘i and Washington, and the resources I have made available on my website, I want to provide the best possible service to my constituents during what will certainly be a difficult time. I am continuing to work with my colleagues to push for a reasonable solution to avert the shutdown, but will stand prepared to assist the people of Hawai‘i in every way possible until a common-sense deal can be struck.”

Rep. Gabbard created a FAQ addressing the shutdown:

Will I still receive my Social Security, veterans or other benefits?
If you do not already receive Social Security, Veterans disability and unemployment benefits could be delayed if the shutdown is prolonged. Medicare and Medicaid payment processing could also be delayed. In the last government shutdown, multiple veterans services were halted, ranging from health and welfare to finance and travel.

Will I still be able to send and receive mail?
Yes. The U.S. Postal Service will continue to operate as normal.

Will I be able to get a passport?
People who are planning a trip and need a passport could get stuck in limbo as passport services shut down.

The Department of State may also cease processing visas.

How will this affect my student loan applications?
New student-loan applications for federal money to help pay for college would most likely not be processed.

Will this delay my small business or home loan?
Small businesses seeking loans from the SBA would be put on hold. Housing loans to low- and middle-income families in rural communities would be put on hold, as would start-up business loans for farmers and ranchers.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) would stop approving applications for small businesses to obtain loans and loan guarantees. In a typical month, SBA approves over $1 billion in loan assistance to small businesses.

I filed my taxes with a paper return. Will I see a delay?
Yes. IRS processing of tax refunds for paper-filed returns and tax audits would be suspended.

Will I be able to get a gun permit?
Applications for gun permits could be delayed because processing them would most likely not be considered an essential function for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

I’m planning a trip to a national park. Would this impact my travel?
Yes. All facilities and services in our national parks would be closed, as would the Smithsonian, impacting the hundreds of thousands of people that visit these sites daily. This would have severely negative impacts on the surrounding local communities that rely on the revenue generated by travel and tourism to these destinations.

All seven National Park Service cites in Hawai‘i would likely close. This includes the USS Arizona, Haleakala, Volcanoes, Puuhonua O Honaunau, Puukohola Heiau, Kaloko Honokohau and Kalaupapa. Residents should be able to remain in Kalaupapa. In the 1995-1996 shutdown, the National Park Service closed all 368 sites.

I am planning a trip to Washington, DC. Will my trip be affected?
All Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo will close. The Kennedy Center will use income and contributions to continue planned performances and educational activities. The local DC government, unlike other local governments, is subject to federal approval. Although there are efforts to keep as many functions as possible operational, there is the potential for a significant disruption in municipal services.

I have a mortgage loan through the Federal Housing Administration. Will my loan be impacted?
Mortgage loans could be delayed because the Federal Housing Administration would likely close.

I am a Federal employee or active-duty member of the military. Will I still get paid? If yes, will my pay be delayed?
Civilian federal employees and government contractors would not be paid. Hundreds of thousands of federal employees immediately and indefinitely furloughed, and many Federal employees and contractors that continue to work would not be paid during the shutdown. Furloughed federal employees would not be allowed to volunteer to report to work or answer official e-mail or messages during a shutdown.

Members of the military would continue to report for work, and would also continue to be paid as usual.

If you are a federal employee, each federal department and agency will have its own shutdown plan because of the differences in funding and staffing. Please consult your employer for specific guidance.

I am a federal contractor using the e-verify system. Will e-verify still be accessible?
The Department of Homeland Security’s e-verify system would not be operational and could slow down hiring for some federal contractors. Grantees to FEMA and FIRE grants would not be able to draw down funds and FEMA’s efforts to update flood risk maps would also halt.

What government services will not be affected by a shutdown?
The following services will likely continue uninterrupted: air traffic control and other transportation safety functions, border and coastal protection, federal prisons, unemployment insurance, federal court system, Department of Defense operations, FEMA disaster recovery efforts, and medical care of inpatients at hospitals and clinics.

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