Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast found themselves menaced Monday by what could be a disruptive and economically damaging federal government shutdown.
As of deadline Monday night, nothing was written in stone. But failure by members of Congress to reach a budget accord would sow havoc in Palm Beach County’s federally funded Head Start program; furlough many federal employees in South Florida regional offices; shutter national parks and refuges in the area; and affect some non-emergency services to veterans. Burials of veterans in South Florida National Cemetery west of Lake Worth would continue, but even that schedule would be altered.
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What may happen if the federal government is forced into a partial shutdown:
Benefit payments: Social Security, Medicare and unemployment benefits will continue, but there may be delays in processing new disability applications.
Mail: Deliveries will continue as usual.
Air travel: Federal air traffic controllers and airport screeners will remain on the job.
National parks, museums: National parks will close, meaning a loss of 750,000 daily visitors and an economic loss of as much as $30 million for each day parks are shut, according to the National Parks Conservation Association. Also likely to close are tourist spots in Washington, including the Lincoln Memorial, National Archives, National Zoo and all Smithsonian museums.
Veterans services: Most services offered through the Department of Veterans Affairs will continue.
Internal Revenue Service: Most of the federal tax agency’s 90,000 employees would be furloughed. Taxpayers who requested an extension beyond the April 15 deadline to file their 2012 taxes still must do so by Oct. 15.
Agriculture Department: USDA meat inspectors would stay on the job, industry experts said. Statistical reports would be delayed.
Federal workers: As many as 1 million could face unpaid furloughs or payless paydays, according to the American Federation of Government Employees.
Defense Department: Active-duty military personnel will stay on duty, but their paychecks would be delayed. About half of the Defense Department’s civilian employees would be furloughed.
Courts: The U.S. Supreme Court would probably operate normally, as it has during previous shutdowns. Other federal courts would remain open for about 10 business days, and reassess around Oct. 15.
Justice Department: Criminal litigation would continue under a government shutdown, while civil litigation would be postponed as much as possible.
Reuters, Associated Press