City Desk

The Shutdown Has Begun

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It's 12:01 a.m., which means the federal government shutdown—the first in 17 years—has officially begun. About 800,000 "nonessential" federal employees will be off the job beginning today and ending whenever Congress manages to do its own work.

But what does the failure of Congress to pass a continuing resolution to fund the federal government—following Republicans' failed attempt to pass the law only if the 2010 Affordable Care Act was defunded, delayed, or otherwise changed—mean for you, Washingtonian?

Well, a lot, especially if you're one of the ones staying home from your job (and losing income). While the D.C. government will stay open by tapping the city's rainy-day fund, the lives of locals will interrupted in all kinds of ways. The National Zoo—and its panda cam—will shutter, as will the National Gallery of Art, the National Archives, the Library of Congress, and the Smithsonian museums. All sorts of federally run facilities will close—including D.C.'s golf courses!—and the memorials within D.C.'s monumental core will be barricaded, forcing the cancelation of some unlucky couples' weddings. Metro will stay open, but may decrease service if the shutdown continues and ridership plummets. If this thing really goes on, the federally funded D.C. Housing Authority could shut down, a terrifying possibility for some D.C. residents living in public housing. Nationwide, while the state-run health exchanges opposed by Republicans will open tomorrow as planned, and most other entitlements won't be affected, some federal loan programs will be frozen, along with WIC food assistance for low-income children.

Which will all, one way or another, make for a pretty interesting week, both in Congress and in the rest of D.C., where we have to deal with the consequences of what's decided on Capitol Hill. How to cope? You could get drunk or agitate in style or go to a nonfederal (and likely not free) museum. Or—because this will definitely improve your mood, now that your government has sent you home without pay—you can play politics-themed ping-pong and watch The West Wing (please, not this episode).

However you spend your shutdown, let us know. Hopefully this won't last long.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

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