A possible federal government shutdown is on the near horizon if Congress fails to agree on federal spending by the September 30 deadline. The ramifications of a federal government shutdown here in Seattle (as well as in Washington state) are not entirely clear but we should be prepared to be affected in ways both big and small. National parks could close, Sea-Tac Airport could see delays, and federal programs could be curtailed.
Read on for all the essential information.
If the federal government shuts down, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employees and air traffic controllers will have to work without pay, according to the Department of Homeland Security. This could lead to delays and slower security lines at Sea-Tac Airport, as well as other airports around the country—starting as early as this weekend. If a government shutdown does occur and happens to coincide with your flight plans, be sure to give yourself plenty of extra time to get through the airport and to your gate.
If you planned to visit a national park in upcoming weeks, you’ll want to stay informed of how they will be affected by a government shutdown. It very well may affect your plans. According to the National Parks Conservation Association, ” national park amenities including visitor centers, campgrounds, research facilities, museums and other facilities would be forced to close” starting on October 1 if a shutdown happens. The NPCA also notes that during the last government shutdown in 2018-19, some parks remained open without adequate staff which led to trash, looting, and damage being done to the parks. There is also the risk of park visitors being unable to access help in the case of injuries or emergencies.
Here are the three national parks in Washington State:
- Mount Rainier National Park
- Olympic National Park
- North Cascades National Park
There are also 12 other recreational areas and historic sites under the purview of the National Park Service that may be affected by a government shutdown. You can view them all on nps.gov.
Although The Seattle Times reports that “it’s not yet clear which state initiatives and programs could be at risk,” the Office of Financial Management is currently focusing on “key agencies receiving federal funding.” These include:
- the Department of Health
- the Department of Social and Health Services,
- the Health Care Authority
- the Department of Services for the Blind
- the Employment Security Department
There also about 54,000 federal employees in Washington state who won’t receive paychecks during a shutdown.
Certain “mandatory” federal programs should not be affected by a shutdown, including Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security payments. The U.S. Postal Service will also continue to operate.