The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
8 things you need to know about the possible government shutdown
UPDATE: 5:10 p.m.: President Obama addresses the nation. See the video feed below:
Where your lawmakers stand
The Fredericksburg area’s two Congressmen are supportive of the House Republican effort to tie a delay in the Affordable Care Act to a continuing resolution to keep the federal government running.
Rep. Wittman said Monday morning that he is “optimistic” a government shutdown can be avoided.
Senator Mark Warner released the following statement on Friday: “We’ve wasted a week on political shenanigans while every minute we wait brings us closer to a government shutdown, which will hurt the economy and unfairly punish Virginia workers and families. We cannot allow ideological issues to stop us from funding the basic operations of the government, and we should be working to get the nation’s fiscal house in order.”
And Sen. Tim Kaine said he agrees they need to have a debate over health care, “but let’s not wrap it up with a government shutdown,” he told Fox News on Sunday.
Health care law would not be affected
Bill Botts is the new health care navigator for the Fredericksburg region. Residents seeking help with signing up for the new federal health care exchange can contact him at 540/374-5023, by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit Legal Services of Northern Virginia at 500 Lafayette Blvd, Suite 140 beginning Tuesday at 9 a.m.
Ironically, a shutdown would have virtually no impact on President Barack Obama’s health care law—the program at the heart of his showdown with House Republicans. The program that detractors dubbed “Obamacare” is set to roll out its individual insurance plans on Tuesday, government shutdown or no, and people hoping to sign up on that first day shouldn’t be affected.
Some of the nation’s behind-the-scenes health and safety work would stop, however. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would be severely limited in spotting or investigating disease outbreaks, from flu to that mysterious MERS virus from the Middle East. The government wouldn’t process auto recall information or conduct new car safety testing.
Area military bases brace for impact
Area military bases, including the Dahlgren Navy base, Fort A.P. Hill, and Marine Corps Base Quantico are preparing for the shutdown and notifying employees of who and what will be affected. The shutdown would impact a wide range of activities, such as training and travel, but base schools–Dahlgren school for example–would not be effected.
A shutdown America could still go to war, Pentagon Comptroller Robert Hale told reporters Friday. But soldiers’ pay might be delayed if closings lasted more than a week or so. The 1.4 million active-duty military personnel will still remain on duty.
Government benefits would continue
Social Security payments and veteran’s benefits will go out, but there could be delays in processing new disability applications. Unemployment benefits would still go out. Food-stamp dollars should continue to flow.
Doctors will see Medicare and Medicaid patients; veteran’s hospitals will stay open.
WIC could shut down, SNAP would continue
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, known as WIC, could shut down. The program provides supplemental food, health care referrals and nutrition education for pregnant women, mothers and their children.
School lunches and breakfasts would continue to be served, and food stamps, known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, would continue to be distributed. But several smaller feeding programs would not have the money to operate.
Zoo’s Panda Cam will stop broadcasting
The the popular Giant Panda Cam, a live video feed from the National Zoo of Panda mother Mei Xiang with her cub, would go dark if the government shuts down tomorrow. The zoo announced on their Twitter feed that during a shutdown, all vehicle, pedestrian and bike paths would be closed, and no live video feeds would be broadcasting. However, the “animals will be fed & cared for,” the Zoo posted. “A shutdown will not affect our commitment to the safety of our staff & excellence in animal care.”
National parks would turn away visitors
A shutdown would quickly close all national parks., from Acadia to Yosemite, and national monuments and wildlife refuges. The Interior Department says campers would get 48 hours to pack up and leave.
Area national parks, including the George Washington Birthplace National Monument and most of Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, will be closed, putting thousands of acres off-limits.
Public roads that go through park land, such as Lee Drive in the city, will remain open to traffic.
You still have to pay your taxes
And the IRS wants you to know: A shutdown is no reprieve for taxpayers. People who got a six-month filing extension are still up against an Oct. 15 deadline. However, the Internal Revenue Service says it would suspend all audits.
Got questions? Sorry, the IRS says taxpayer services, including toll-free help lines, would be shut as well.