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Sep 30, 2013 4:11 PM by Staff and wire reports

What does a government shutdown mean for Acadiana?

There's a lot of uncertainty surrounding a possible, partial government shutdown which is looming this Monday. While not all Americans will be directly affected by a shutdown, its impacts could be felt across the country. Here are some of the basics on what will remain intact, and what will be closed, should a government shutdown happen.

1. Military
Active duty military, including the National Guard, will have to show up for work on Tuesday. They will not be furloughed, however, there is a possibility paychecks could be delayed. If the shutdown lasts longer than a week, payroll could get behind and not be able to process paychecks due out on October 15th.

The real effect will be seen on the Guard's federal technicians, many of who would be furloughed under a shutdown.

"We are making plans," said Louisiana National Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Michael Kazmierzak. "If there is a shutdown, it will definitely affect our federal technicians.

"Obviously maintain all of ours security, emergency operations, and ongoing operations overseas," Kazmierzak said. "Our AGR (full-time, non-federally funded National Guard) personnel will remain at work, so in most cases those personnel are continuing in their normal duty status to fill in for those being furloughed."

2. Disaster Response
With the bulk of the hurricane season behind us, Louisianans can relax somewhat. According to Lafayette Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness Director William Vincent, a government shutdown will not affect emergency operations.. But the Department of Homeland Security says all non-disaster grants, such as state and local preparedness programs, would be postponed.

3. Government Services
Mail service, tax collection, federal prisons, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid will all remain intact if there is a shutdown. Also, unemployment benefits and food stamps would not be affected. WIC and school lunch programs could be threatened, however most states already have money set aside to fund these programs.

4. Obamacare
A government shutdown would not stop the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, from going into effect on Tuesday. This is because, like Social Security, Obamacare is a permanent entitlement that isn't subject to annual funding by Congress.

5. VA Benefits
VA compensation could be in danger if the shutdown lasts for a long period of time. The Department of Veterans Affairs said if the shutdown continues into late October, it will run out of money for compensation and pension checks to more than 3.6 million veterans who rely on the money to support themselves.

6. Tax Collection
Yes, tax collection will still take place if there is a government shutdown. This matters to the more than 12 million people who have requested an extension on their 2012 taxes, which is due by October 15th.

7. Federal Employees
It's unknown how many federal workers will be furloughed during the shutdown. There are exemptions, such as for employees necessary to protect public health, safety and property. Typically non-defense government employees are the ones considered for furlough first.

The federal judiciary, for example, have funds from fees to operate for 10 days. If a shutdown lasts longer, the judiciary would have to operate with only essential employees.

"We have 10 days, so we hope that we don't have to figure out what essential means," said Tony Moore, clerk of court for the Western District of Louisiana. "I will meet with our head judges and administrators. We will determine how to move forward."

Each government agency will decide on a contingency plan for furloughs, which must be sent to the White House for review.

Employees whose salaries are paid from sources outside an annual spending bill can still get paid and report to work.

8. Congress and the President
Members of Congress and President Obama will still get paid if there is a shutdown. If furloughs begin to affect the government's ability to process payroll, the President's check could be delayed.

Congress will still get paid thanks to a law that was intended to prevent Congress from giving itself a raise. That same law also protects members from a pay cut.

9. National Parks
There are a half-dozen or so national parks in Louisiana, including the Poverty Point National Monument, Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and the Atchafalaya National Heritage Area. If there is a shutdown, all of those parks would close and people are already in the parks would be forced to leave.

10. E-Verify
The government system that allows companies to voluntarily check the legal work status of its employees would be shut down.

11. Passports and Visas
There is a chance that passports and visas will not be processed during a government shutdown.

12. Student Loans
The government provides aid to more than 14 million students through federal grants and loans. If a shutdown is prolonged, students may not receive this money because there won't be enough federal employees to process the payments.


» There are multiple updates to this story. Please click here to get the latest information.


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