Apparently a government shut-down is not really a government shut down. According to this AP report less than half of all government workers are subject to a shutdown the rest continue to work as usual.
Apparently that is all that is really needed to run the federal government. The rest could be considered non-essential workers perhaps?
WASHINGTON — Social Security checks would still go out. Troops would remain at their posts. Furloughed federal workers probably would get paid, though not until later. And virtually every essential government agency, like the FBI, the Border Patrol and the Coast Guard, would remain open.
That’s the little-known truth about a government shutdown. The government doesn’t shut down.
And it won’t on March 5, even if the combatants on Capitol Hill can’t resolve enough differences to pass a stopgap spending bill to fund the government while they hash out legislation to cover the last seven months of the budget year.
Fewer than half of the 2.1 million federal workers subject to a shutdown would be forced off the job if the Obama administration followed the path taken by presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. And that’s not counting 600,000 Postal Service employees or 1.6 million uniformed military personnel exempt from a shutdown.
The air traffic control system, food inspection, Medicare, veterans’ health care and many other essential government programs would run as usual. The Social Security Administration would not only send out benefits but would continue to take applications. The Postal Service, which is self-funded, would keep delivering the mail. Federal courts would remain open.
The Capitol would remain open, however. Congress is deemed essential, despite its abysmal poll ratings.
The IRS wouldn’t answer its taxpayer hotline — at the height of tax-filing season. Under IRS precedents, the agency would process tax returns that contain payments. But people getting refunds would have to wait.
But from a practical perspective, shutdowns usually aren’t that big a deal. They happened every year when Jimmy Carter was president, averaging 11 days each. During President Reagan’s two terms, there were six shutdowns, typically of just one or two days apiece. Deals got cut. Everybody moved on.
Lawmakers, however, typically provide back pay, even for employees who weren’t required to work. A repeat of that could raise hackles with some in the tea party-backed House GOP freshman class. A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, wouldn’t address whether furloughed federal workers would receive back pay if there is a shutdown this time.
Regardless, federal contractors would lose out. Many contract workers could be furloughed without pay and not receive lost wages retroactively, especially in an extended shutdown.