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What happens if government shuts down?

Published: Fri, April 8, 2011 @ 12:01 a.m.

RELATED: Shutdown talks yield no deal as clock ticks

Staff report


You’ll still get the mail.

Federal courts will continue to function. Military operations will not cease.

Cash benefits and benefits through the Ohio Direction Card program would remain intact.

Other services, however, will be affected if nonessential federal government services are forced to shut down at midnight because of Congress’ failure to enact a budget.

The Republican-controlled U.S. House voted Thursday, largely along party lines, to fund the government another week and cut $12 billion in spending. The Democratic-led Senate was unlikely to pass the bill, and the president has vowed to veto it if the Senate approves it.

Those filing tax returns by mail with the IRS should expect delays in having them processed and receiving refunds. But e-file returns will be processed through its computer system, and there won’t be a delay in those refunds.

Local congressional offices could be closed as members of Congress would only retain essential employees and furlough the rest under a federal government shutdown, said Pat Lowry, spokesman for U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Niles, D-17th.

“We are making plans in the event of a shutdown,” added Jessica Towhey, spokesman for U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson of Poland, R-6th. “We are looking at ways to keep our Ohio offices open so that we are able to provide essential services and remain accessible to constituents.”

Applications for U.S. Small Business Administration loans also could be delayed, Ryan said.

At the Social Security Administration, Bobby Reynolds, manager of the Warren office, said she still awaits instructions on what to do if there’s a government shutdown. But she added: “Checks will be delivered.”

Reynolds recalled a brief partial government shutdown during the early 1980s, during which every Social Security office was kept open, but with a reduced staff.

Those filing for new benefits would likely face delays.

A government shutdown wouldn’t impact mail delivery.

“We have to operate off of the revenues we make through the sales of stamps, so, for the Postal Service, it’s going to be business as usual,” said Victor Dubina, a postal service spokesman in Cleveland.

“We’re still awaiting some guidance from our main office in Cleveland, but I have every expectation that we will be open,” said Don Hinkson, deputy clerk in charge at U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Youngstown.

For federal courts, Karen Redmond, a spokeswoman for the Washington, D.C.-based Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, was more definite: “The short answer is: The courts will remain open,” she said.

Federal courts are prepared to use filing fees to run the courts for up to two weeks. After that, the courts would limit activities to those essential to resolving cases.

Jurors, public defenders and court-appointed lawyers would continue to serve, but payments to them would be deferred.

The federal district and bankruptcy courts operate in two separate courthouses in downtown Youngstown, with one judge assigned to each building. The newly appointed U.S. District judge based here is Judge Benita Pearson. The U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge here is Kay Woods.

Mike Tobin, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio in Cleveland, said what happens in his office is “very much up in the air.” The U.S. Attorney, who serves as the federal prosecutor, maintains an office in downtown Youngstown.

Mike McElhaney, program administrator of income maintenance for Mahoning County Job and Family Services, said he got word from Columbus on Thursday that if the shutdown does occur, cash benefits and benefits through the Ohio Direction Card program would remain intact.

“It’s absolutely a relief that the benefits won’t be affected,” he said. “There is quite a high volume of benefits here in Mahoning County, so we wouldn’t want anything happening to any of those.”

McElhaney said for the state fiscal year 2010, a monthly average of 20,186 cases — not necessarily individuals — received benefits from JFS.

“If you’re talking about more than 20,000 cases a month on assistance, that equates to a lot of families,” he said. “Our food banks are pretty stretched out now, so I can’t imagine adding that many more families in need.”

As for military operations and civilian personnel, “operations and activities that are essential to safety, protection of human life, and protection of our national security, are ‘excepted’ from shutting down,” said Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn III in a message to Department of Defense personnel.

Lynn said operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Japan; Libya-related support operations; and other operations and activities essential to the security of the nation will continue.

In general, military personnel are not subject to furlough and will report for duty. The DoD will have no funds to pay military members or civilian employees for the days during which the government is shut down. Both military and civilian personnel, however, will receive pay for the period worked before the shutdown. These people will be paid retroactively once the department receives additional funding.

Contributors: Peter H. Milliken, David Skolnick, Elise Franco, William K. Alcorn


1MattMarzula(109 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

Bring. It. On.

If the government shut down, you wouldn't notice. And those who would would be taken care of later. Then, the whiplash would create a situation to further upset any proposed budget that if unaccounted for would create an immediate deficit that would render that budget obsolete from the moment it is approved. So yeah, let them shut down. At a savings of 12 billion in operating cost per week just to pay bureaucrats, I wouldn't mind if DC was a ghost town like all those other unproductive and depleted waste of resources where no one wants to live.

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2UnionForever(1470 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

Shut it down already! We can't continue to waste taxpayer monies and spend at the current levels. Essential services will still operate.

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3TylerDurden(367 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

Here we have an entity that determines the amount and number of its expenses, creates its own revenue at will, and pays no taxes, yet it cannot fund itself. Genius.

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4Photoman(1102 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

Once again, voting along party lines. The system is broken and corrupt. We need a 3rd party to assist in correcting this mess and, perhaps, truly represent the American people. We must stop this slide toward America becoming a 3rd world nation.

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5haynie9999(25 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

I so called President thinks he is thinking of the people. He will see when we vote again. So many people made a big mistake by voting him in, It is time for another change,

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6Freeatlast(1991 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

Photoman @ America becoming a 3rd world nation You are right . But only for the middle class The Rich oil, banking thugs will just get Richer

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7arbalaugh(13 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

If it does shut down, we should be able to withold our take dollars from going to the government!

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8oldstown(266 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

Soetoro has refused to accede to the will of the American people and after he succeeds in shutting down the government, his popularity will plummet from the low 40's to the low 20's (if he's lucky).

Thank you Tea Party for standing up for what's right and putting the government trash on the curb where it belongs. November 2012 is coming and it will make 2010 look like a blowout year for Democrats.

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9cambridge(3615 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

This is so funny. You take a teabagger hero like Rand Paul, I don't think he would have wanted the government shut down before the teabaggers elected him since 50% of his income was paid by Medicare and 5% by Medicaid.


So Rand Paul a Senator from Kentucky will help shut down the federal government that sends between $1.51 to $1.82 to Kentucky for every dollar Kentucky pays in federal taxes.


The teabagger/republican teabaggers won the last election, the circus is in town. Just sit back and watch the train wreck, They'll be gone soon.

It's only a movie.

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10CommonSenseGuy(37 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

Shut down Obama's lousy Government, just don't lock out the NFL season please!

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11dmacker(410 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

What's the problem?
If they have determined that 800,000 federal government workers are not essential, get rid of them and get on with a government that we can afford and that can pay it's bills.
Of course many of the give away programs would have nobody to give away our tax dollars.
So what's the problem?

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12Woody(474 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago


There in lies the problem.

Kentucky gets $1.51 back from the federal government for every $1 it sends there. Where is that money coming from?

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13VINDYAK(1824 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

Exactly! We are borrowing the rest of that money. And our fearless President wants to raise our debt ceiling so we can borrow more!?

This madness has got to stop. We are writing billion dollar checks, but we only have million dollar bank balances.

I'm tired of paying for all these special interest groups, funds and programs that are doing nothing for me but putting you and I into more debt.

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14cambridge(3615 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

Woody..... You want to know where the red states get more money than they send to Washington. They get it from the blue states like California that send more to Washington than Washington sends back and from the budget deficit.

The first thing I want to see cut is Rand Paul slopping up at the tax payer troff at the tune of 55% of his income and cut Kentucky's federal funding by 33% so they only get back what they paid. That way the good people of Kentucky get what they voted for.

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15iBuck(231 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

The reports have it that Ryan proposed cuts that would bring down the annual deficit to $995G, but the leftists are hanging tough, wanting to keep the annual deficit above $1.1GT. So, what I want to know is why isn't the debate over whether to make a $100G surplus vs. $200G surplus to pay off the excessive federal debt more quickly. Neither the leftists nor the "conservatives" are even in the ball-park of being reasonable on this.

The federal government should be begging to the states for their funding. The creation of federal income extortion and direct election of senators (16th and 17th amendments) were very bad measures backed by the reds/leftists. (So, why is it that just a decade or so ago, the media decided to invert the colors? Why did they start calling the reds blue? To confuse the public.)

What happens if parts of the feral corrupt federal government shut down? We celebrate!

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162muchtax(711 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

Congressman & Senators still get paid, these scum give themselves raises,have special retirement programs. These people like everyone in the US should be on Social Security. Shut it down, the tea party people have it right. Dont spend a nickel more than you bring in CUT IT OR SHUT IT!

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17jetercp(67 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

yahoo.com had this same story 3 days ago... what happened to this paper??? i miss the old vindicator. 3 day old stories realistically arent news anymore, just old hat!

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18ytowhoh330(89 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

If it does shut down don't worry they will still take the taxes out of our payroll checks and the sun will still rise tomorrow.

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19palefoot(35 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

So we have money to send to help other countries but our own government has to shut down because of lack of money? I just don't get it.

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