October 26, 2020

How will Mississippians be affected by federal government shutdown?

The partial shutdown of the U.S. government won’t force public services in the state to grind to a halt, but it could create some inconveniences.

More than 400,000 employees nationwide are expected to be furloughed across nine federal agencies that don’t have approved spending plans, resulting in slower or nonexistent services at national parks, the Internal Revenue Service, passport offices and elsewhere. Another 420,000 employees deemed essential will have to work without pay.

Here is a look at what’s affected by the shutdown:

National Parks

Properties operated by the National Park Service will be affected by the shutdown. For most parks, there will be no National Park Service-provided visitor services, such as restrooms, trash collection, facilities, or road maintenance. Some areas not served by visitor’s service will continue to be open to the public.

  • The Natchez Trace Parkway will remain open to traffic during the shutdown, but no government facilities will be available.  All restrooms, visitor centers, sites, campgrounds, etc. will be closed.  Law enforcement Rangers will remain on-duty for protection of Parkway resources and to ensure public safety.
  • The Vicksburg National Military Park will remain open to visitors, including the visitor center, U.S.S. Cairo Gunboat and Museum, the Vicksburg National Cemetery. The park will be open thanks to the Friends of the Vicksburg National Military Park and Campaign, who have committed to fund basic operations of the VNMP through the help of donors and partners.
  • At the Natchez National Historical Park, the Melrose and William Johnson House sites of Natchez National Historical Park will be closed for the safety of visitors and park resources.  The park’s Fort Rosalie site will remain open to the public during daylight hours, and The Natchez Shop at the Natchez Visitor Center will be open to the public.
  • At Gulf Islands National Seashore all park waters and Mississippi barrier islands are open. The Davis Bayou campground in Ocean Springs will close at 4 p.m. Saturday. All campground reservations will be canceled, and those with reservations will be refunded. All other areas and facilities will be closed.
  • At Shiloh National Military Park (which includes the Corinth Battlefield Unit in Mississippi)  some areas are accessible, but no government facilities will be available.

Benefits

Social Security and Medicare operations will continue.

Mail

Post offices will remain open, and mail will still be delivered.

Military

Military funding for military bases and Coast Guard stations in Mississippi have already been appropriated and will not be affected by the shutdown.

Department of Veterans Affairs

The Department of Veteran Affiars, which oversees veteran hospitals and benefits programs, will continue routine operations. Veteran disability payments and GI Bill benefits will stay consistent.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

The U.S Army Coprs of Engineers will be operating but at a limited capacity.

Airports

Security checkpoints at all airports will remain staffed, and air traffic controllers will remain on the job.

Home/business loans

The Federal Housing Administration may be delayed in processing home loan applications, while the Small Business Administration may be slow to approve commercial loans.

Food assistance

Aid programs will not be affected for now. The programs include the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, food stamps and school lunches.

Passports

The processing of visas and passports could be delayed. The State Department, which will have limited staffing, may be slow in updating foreign travel advisories.