21 surprising effects of the government shutdown you haven’t heard about

21 surprising effects of the government shutdown you haven’t heard about

By Caitlin Dewey, Published: October 2 at 9:00 amE-mail the writer

The government shutdown will temporarily slash the staffs and operations of every “nonessential” federal program — which, as you can imagine, adds up to a whole lot of programs. There are the ones you know about, like the national parks and the panda cam. Then there’s everything else.

A right whale sounds in Cape Cod Bay. The advisory committee that protects whales and other marine mammals is one of many cutting back for the government shutdown. (Bill Greene/Boston Globe via Getty Images)

A right whale sounds in Cape Cod Bay. (Bill Greene/Boston Globe via Getty Images)Here’s 21 effects of the shutdown you might not have heard about.

1) No one will oversee the program that makes sure your organic food is actually organic. That’s called the National Organic Standards Program, and its entire staff was furloughed. Also on the Department of Agriculture furlough list: the people who check that your meats, shellfish, produce, nuts and ginseng are labeled with their country of origin.

2) The Department of Homeland Security will stop civil liberties complaint lines, investigation and training. The training will affect employees on the state, local and federal level.

3) Wild horse and burro adoptions will stall. (Yes, wild horse and burro adoptions are a real thing.)

4) A series of recreational trips and events for veterans, including an Antique Car Show and “Saloon Night,” were cancelled at the Armed Forces Retirement Home facilities in D.C. and Gulfport, Miss. The average AFRH resident is 82 years old.

5) New distilleries, breweries and wineries won’t open. Certain businesses that manufacture or distribute alcohol — and firearms, ammunition and tobacco products — require permits from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, which won’t accept new applications during the shutdown.

6) Space will go silent. The NASA social media staff behind @MarsCuriosity, a prolific and wildly popular account, have been furloughed.

7) Businesses that operate on federally managed lands or public parks — such as privately owned campgrounds, concession stands and tour companies — will close.

8) Twenty-four American war cemeteries, including the Normandy American Cemetery at the site of the D-Day invasion, will close. The cemeteries are operated by the American Battle Monuments Commission and are where nearly 125,000 U.S. soldiers who died abroad during battles are interred.

9) The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act will be back-burnered. Dodd-Frank was designed to overhaul the financial regulatory system and provide more government oversight in the wake of the recession, but the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) says it won’t work on the act’s implementation during the shutdown.

10) The Department of Agriculture will not operate its popular 25-year-old “Meat and Poultry Hotline.”

11) Most research activities at the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will go dark. Those agencies study topics including long-term climate change. Real-time hurricane and flight-planning models will still be available.

12) Towns impacted by the recent flooding in Colorado could wait longer for assistance.

13) No one from the Office of the Pardon Attorney will be available should President Obama want to issue a presidential pardon. The Justice Department adds that, in an emergency, someone from that office could be recalled from furlough.

14) The Department of Transportation will not drug test its employees.

15) Charges of on-the-job discrimination complaints will not be investigated. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which oversees these investigations, will record the charges and hold them until after the shutdown.

16) Only 15 people will care for the White House and the Obama family, down from their usual 90.

17) No one will advise the government on “matters pertaining to the arts.” And there is, in fact, an entire commission devoted to just that type of advice.

18) E-Verify will go offline. More than 400,000 employers use the popular system to check their employees’ immigration and eligibility status.

19) The U.S. Coast Guard will delay licenses for both recreational and for-profit boaters.

20) The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement will stop monitoring  coal mines … except in an emergency or if someone complains.

21) Whales will be on their own. The scientific advisory committee that monitors their safety will shutter all operations, save for a few members, appointed by the president, who will watch for emergencies.


Author: AFGE Local 704

Representing over 900 bargaining unit employees working at the U.S. EPA Region 5 Offices in Chicago, Ann Arbor, MI and Westlake, OH.

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