What opens again now that the government shutdown is over?

Author: CBS News
Photo via CBS News.

President Trump signed a bill Friday night to reopen the federal government for three weeks, officially ending the record-long partial government shutdown that began on December 22 and left hundreds of thousands of federal employees without pay.

Nine out of 15 federal departments were closed during those 35 days, as well as dozens of agencies.

“Our dedicated public servants should never, never have to go through this again,” Sen. Chuck Schumer said Friday, after President Trump announced he would sign legislation to reopen the government for three weeks. “We will do everything we can to make sure they won’t have to, and this past month has proven just how vital government services are to the American people, whether it’s our food safety, our airports, our national parks, our economy, our national security and so much else.”

Here’s a look at what was affected by the 2018-2019 partial government shutdown, and some of the longer-term impacts as things get back up and running.

What was shut down during the shutdown

The FDA initially did not do routine inspections of domestic food-processing facilities. It recalled workers to restart inspections of what are considered “high-risk” foods in mid-January after the routine inspections were briefly halted due to the shutdown.

The Smithsonian museums and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., shut their doors on January 2. The National Zoo also closed, although animals were still cared for by zoo workers.

Both the Smithsonian museums and the zoo are set to reopen on Tuesday, January 29.

Many national parks also closed, but several remained opened during the shutdown, albeit without services. Sanitary conditions rapidly deteriorated at many of the nation’s parks, with restroom toilets overflowing and trash piling up.

The National Park Service said in a statement that it is “preparing to resume regular operations nationwide though the schedule for individual parks may vary depending on staff size and complexity of operations.” Independence National Historical Park, including the Liberty Bell Center, in Philadelphia has already opened.

Immigration courts closed, forcing judges to indefinitely postpone hearings scheduled months in advance.

E-Verify, the government immigration system and database employers use to check and confirm employees are eligible to work in the United States, was out of service during the shutdown. It typically takes just a few seconds for E-Verify to compare an employee’s records against DHS and Social Security records. A few hundred E-Verify employees were allowed to return to work this week, although they were temporarily assigned to non-E-Verify related tasks during the shutdown.

Agencies including the NSF, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Parks Service, the U.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.

Large-scale instruments like NASA’s Stratoscopheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy – the “flying telescope” – had to stop operations. Eventually bringing such instrumentation back up to speed requires over a week. NASA managers and engineers working on the agency’s high-priority commercial crew program remained on the job without pay, continuing preparations for the first unpiloted launch of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft on a long-awaited test flight in February

Some airlines who took delivery of new aircraft in December and January forced to park those new planes as they have to receive Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) certification to carry passengers, and the people who certify the aircraft are furloughed. That does not impact an airlines’ operations, but it did cost them revenue to have planes sitting unused, CBS News’ Kris Van Cleave reported.

The National Transportation Safety Board has been unable to investigate the 97 major accidents that have occurred since the shutdown began. They resume service on Monday.

What was open and operating

Mail was still delivered. Social Security checks were still going out to recipients, and Medicare and Medicaid are unaffected by the partial shutdown.

While TSA officers were working without pay, screeners working at the 22 airports that have private contractors handling airport security continued to get paid during the shutdown.

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 processing on refunds.

The National Hurricane Center website continued to be updated and maintained because its information is needed for the protection of life and property.

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation continued because it does not depend on a congressional appropriation for its funding. Trump associate Roger Stone was indicted and arrested as part of the investigation on Friday, the last day of the shutdown.

Nutrition benefits issued 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 efforts continued.

U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services, which deals with naturalization and citizenship, was uninterrupted because its operations are 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 during the shutdown.

Consequences of the shutdown

The Associated Press reported that despite the IRS continuing to process tax returns, the absences of large contingents of recalled workers during the shutdown could still lead to delayed tax returns.

The shutdown particularly affected the aviation industry. Flights in and out New York City’s LaGuardia airport were delayed on Friday morning due to government shutdown-related staffing shortages among air traffic controllers, according to a notice issued by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Financial hardship due to the government shutdown has prompted some federal airport workers to call out of work causing some passenger interruptions. On Friday morning, an American Airlines flight out of Monroe, Louisiana, bound for Dallas with 26 passengers was canceled due to a TSA officer shortage in Monroe, according to an airline’s spokesperson.

About 7.6 percent of the TSA workforce had an “unscheduled absence” on Thursday, up from 3 percent a year ago, according to the federal agency. Earlier this week, the TSA requested 250 screening officers volunteers to make up for the call outs.

The union for flight attendants expressed concern about the impact of the shutdown. “This is exactly what AFA and other aviation unions have been warning would happen,” wrote Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, in a statement. “The aviation system depends on the safety professionals who make it run. They have been doing unbelievably heroic work even as they are betrayed by the government that employs them.”

Air traffic controllers also sounded the alarm, saying in a statement that flying could be less safe with more air traffic controllers taking unscheduled absences due to financial difficulties. “Air traffic controllers are required to report fit for duty every shift. It is a very high threshold of fitness demanded by the seriousness of the job,” the statement said. “This shutdown has caused a tremendous amount of added stress for them on top of what is already a difficult and stressful job.”

The FBI Agents Association also warned this week that the shutdown was not only hurting individual FBI employees and their families, but hampering key operations. Some of those affected operations, according to a series of statements the association released Tuesday, included efforts to thwart the same criminal enterprises Mr. Trump claims the shutdown is meant to defeat in the long run.

Economic impact

Federal workers and their families were particularly affected. Several food banks opened around the country to assist federal employees who could not afford to buy groceries. In Washington, D.C., one pop-up kitchen providing free meals to affected workers is run by the non-profit organization World Central Kitchen, which was founded by celebrity chef José Andrés.

Americans who rely on certain services from the federal government were also impacted by the shutdown, such as people who relied on federal assistance to pay their rent.

The shutdown also dragged down economic growth. Analysts from S&P Global recently estimated the economic damage from the shutdown was surpassing the $5.7 billion in proposed funding for Mr. Trump’s southern border wall that prompted the Washington breakdown in the first place.

When will federal workers be paid?

It’s unclear when federal employees will be receiving their paychecks, despite Mr. Trump’s assurances. A senior administration official said Friday, “Recognizing the urgency of getting federal employees paid quickly, the administration is taking steps to ensure they receive pay as soon as possible. Since specific payroll issues vary by agency, employees can find more information about paycheck details by reaching out to their agency.”

Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, said Friday he expects federal employees to receive paychecks next week.

A Democratic Senate aide said the Congressional Research Office told Collins’ office the agencies should be able to process paychecks within a few days after the continuing resolution is signed. That will include backpay.

The next scheduled paycheck for most federal workers is February 8. That is the latest they would receive their first paycheck of 2019.

The Coast Guard, which is on a different pay schedule for active duty personnel, said it will take three to five days to get paychecks processed once a continuing resolution is signed.

Grace Segers, Kate Smith, Kathryn Watson, Ellen Uchimiya, Kris Van Kleave and Arden Farhi contributed reporting

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