The Government Has Reopened…For Now

Some 800,000 federal workers are back to work today after a 35-day shutdown, as lawmakers are pressured to come to an agreement on funding.  

On Friday President Trump and Congress reached a deal to reopen the roughly one-quarter of the government that had been closed despite the President not getting the $5.7 billion he has requested for the U.S.-Mexico border wall. According to Reuters, “a committee of lawmakers from both parties will try to negotiate a compromise on border security as Congress prepared to reconvene.”


What closes when there is a government shutdown and what remains open?

Federal operations that close during government shutdowns:

  • FDA inspections of domestic food-processing facilities
  • Smithsonian museums and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.
  • National parks
  • Immigration courts
  • E-verify, the government immigration system
  • Agencies including the NSF, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Parks Service, the S. Geological Survey, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Institute of Standards and Technology and NOAA had to stop most of their work during the shutdown
  • National Transportation Safety Board
  • Large-scale instruments like NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy– the “flying telescope” – had to stop operations

What remained open during the shutdown:

  • US Post Office
  • Social security checks
  • Medicare & Medicaid
  • The National Hurricane Center
  • Nutrition benefits issues through the USDA, like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), were available through January and February. Child nutrition programs, like School Lunch and School Breakfast, were guaranteed to keep operating into February.
  • Forest Service law enforcement and emergency response
  • S. Citizen and Immigration Services, which deals with naturalization and citizenship, was uninterrupted do to its operations being funded by user fees
  • Veterans still got their benefits because the Veterans Affairs Department was among those funded through September 2019
  • Passport services were still offered
  • On January 7, the White House promised that tax refunds would not be affected by the shutdown, and later that day, the IRS confirmed it will begin to process tax returns for refunds on January 28. However, the IRS recalled thousands of workers later in January specifically to work on processing refunds.



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