l Am I an “essential” worker, an “excepted” employee or “non-essential”? How will I know?

An essential worker is the same as an excepted employee, and the administration says each agency would tell its employees whether they’re essential or non-essential.

l If the government shuts down at midnight Friday, what should I do on Monday?

It depends. Workers should consult their agency. Some, such as the Defense Department, are instructing all employees to show up for work as they normally would, and they will be told what to do.

l M y child is enrolled in a day-care center at the federal agency where I work. Would it still be open?

It varies. Just Us Kids, which cares for 74 children at the Justice Department, would remain open, spokeswoman Mia Holtan said. But the Agriculture Department’s Child Development Center, which has 80 children, would close — although 13 of the kids whose parents are not federal employees would be accommodated at a sister center, director Janis Barksdale said. The centers were notifying parents on Thursday.


l Would I be able to obtain a passport?

If there is a shutdown, the State Department will cancel “Passport Day in the USA 2011,” scheduled for Saturday, when passport offices had planned to hold special hours and families were encouraged to attend. A State Department spokeswoman said that only emergency passports would be processed during a shutdown.

l Would Amtrak rail service be affected?

No. Amtrak receives some federal funding but it also receives revenue from ticket sales and has enough money to maintain its full schedule during a “short-term” government shutdown, an Amtrak spokeswoman said.

l What about security agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security, the Transportation Security Administration and the Coast Guard?

The Department of Homeland Security would suspend its e-Verify system, which allows employers to check a worker’s immigration status. But most of the agency’s 230,000 employees hold jobs that would continue during an impasse. Agents would still protect U.S. borders, airport security guards would screen passenger bags, and the Coast Guard would continue to patrol U.S. waters.

l Would food continue to be inspected?

USDA inspectors would continue to monitor meat, poultry and egg products, and FDA inspectors would continue to inspect food imported from Japan, but the FDA said it would scale back on other food inspections while continuing ongoing criminal investigations.

l I’m a small-business owner and I’ve applied for a loan guarantee. What would happen?

The Small Business Administration probably would stop processing applications for small-business loan guarantees and direct loans to small businesses also could be affected.


l Would museums and federal attractions be open?

Most federal properties — such as the National Archives, the monuments and memorials, and the Smithsonian museums and National Zoo — would be closed. The National Building Museum and the Bureau of Engraving and Printing would remain open, along with private museums such as the Newseum, the Spy Museum, the Phillips Collection and the Corcoran Gallery of Art.

l What about public events this weekend?

A federal shutdown probably would affect the Cherry Blossom Parade on Saturday and the George Washington Parkway Classic 10-mile road race on Sunday. Both events are slated to take place on land owned by the National Park Service, and organizers have been scrambling without success to get permission to hold their events.

l What would happen to the National Forest Service and national parks?

National Forest System recreation sites that are staffed by a Forest Service employee would close. Locally, this means the closure of the White House, the Washington Monument and other NPS facilities, including the Thompson Boat Center.

Across the country, all 394 national parks would close, including the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and Yellowstone National Park. Typically in April, the NPS has 805,000 visits per day, and visitors spend $32 million per day.


l Would D.C. municipal services be affected?

Yes. Trash collection and street sweeping would be suspended, and libraries and Department of Motor Vehicles offices would close unless Congress provides funding for those operations.

l Would D.C. residents need to show up for jury duty?

Yes. The D.C. Courts are federally funded and considered essential functions. So proceedings would go forward and jurors would have to report for duty.

— Lyndsey Layton

A federal shutdown means different things to different people. Here are answers to some basic questions about how a shutdown would affect federal workers, taxpayers, tourists and Washingtonians. For an expanded list of questions and answers, go to www.washingtonpost.com.