Apr 8, 2011 6:28 PM by Lucy Madison (CBS News)
With just hours to go before the latest deadline to avoid a government shutdown, federal agencies are preparing for the possibility of such an event, but questions about the tangible impact of a government shutdown loom - particularly in terms of what it might mean for millions of Americans.
CBS Political Hotsheet takes a look at who and what would be directly affected by a government shutdown and how that could affect the rest of us.
Social Security: Social Security recipients would be largely unaffected by a shutdown, according to the administration official. Checks for seniors, those with disabilities, and survivors would go out as usual. But Social Security Administration employees could face furloughs, but the agency is still finalizing its plan.
Homeland Security: Critical functions, like border control, would continue.
Mail delivery: The U.S. Postal Service is owned by the government but self-funded - so operations would continue uninterrupted.
Air traffic control: As a function of maintaining public safety, air traffic control would be exempt from a shutdown.
Food inspection: Meat and poultry testing would likely continue, in accordance with federal mandates that those activities deemed "essential to ensure continued public health or safety" continue.
National parks and monuments: This would definitely affect Montana, as both Glacier National Park and Yellowstone National Park would be impacted. As the New York Times puts it, "The National Zoo would close, but the lions and tigers would get fed." National parks and museums, including those on the National Mall, like the Smithsonian, would shut down - just in time for spring break.
Passport operations: All operations would be likely suspended, except for in cases of emergency.
International Revenue Services (IRS): The IRs would close, but the April tax deadline would stay in place - so Americans would still have to pay their taxes on time. But according to the senior administration official, the processing of paper tax returns (which accounts for about 30 percent of all returns) would be suspended - as would refunds associated with those returns.
Medicare: According to the administration official, Medicare is funded for the short-term - and would likely remain unaffected unless the government were to remain closed for a period of months or more. NIH, however, will not be able to accept new patients or begin new clinical trials.
Military: Uniformed military personnel would continue to serve, but they would not get paid for their work until the government reopened. (Troops would get one week, not two weeks, pay in their next check, as the shutdown would go into effect in the middle of a pay cycle.) And a number of Pentagon civilians, State Department officials and USAID staff would likely be furloughed.
Veterans services will largely go interrupted, as the Veterans Administration receives its yearly appropriation in advance and thus has the money to fund services for the rest of the year.