Washington, DC, United States (4E) – Federal offices started shutting down Tuesday after Congress failed to pass a budget for the new fiscal year.
Government agencies told workers to stay home while others came to office to sign furlough papers and help shut it down, including turning their voicemail and email to “out-of-office” mode. Up to 800,000 federal employees, except essential staffs, are getting furloughed, including those at the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Census Bureau, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Commerce, Department of Education, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Aviation Administration, Federal Communications Commission, Food and Drug Administration and Internal Revenue Service.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which partly administers Obamacare, and other agencies were not spared. The national parks, monuments and zoos were closed.
The 400,000 civilian workers at the Department of Defense were exempted from furlough as a new law signed by President Barack Obama on Monday will keep them on the job to support troops. That includes most of the 2,300 civilian workers tt the Texas Red River Army Depot, which refurbishes military vehicles, said the depot’s union leader Cebron O’Bier.
The Department of Energy and federal courts will remain in operation for a few more days as both still have enough budget to pay workers.
Nearly 57 million Americans who get Social Security payments and nearly 51 million others covered by Medicare will continue to get their benefits as 94 percent of the Social Security Administration’s 44,000 front-line operations workers will remain on the job, according to John Hudak, an expert on federal spending and a fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution, a Washington, D.C. think tank.
The Supreme Court will remain open until Friday, according to a notice posted on its website.
The government shutdown follows days of impasse between the House and Senate over a spending bill with a rider delaying implementation of or amending the Affordable Healthcare Act also known as Obamacare, which launched on Tuesday. Twice the Republican-led House passed such spending bills but both were rejected consecutively by the Democrat-led Senate until the deadline on Monday midnight.