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Christmastime shutdown hits, actual effects still unclear

December 22, 2018

The government barreled into its third government shutdown of the year Saturday morning, but it doesn’t appear to be affecting much in the way of services yet.

Perhaps the biggest change came online, where Twitter accounts and websites belonging to dozens of federal agencies stopped updating.

Some national parks have closed, while others are open but without visitors services such as restrooms.

But federal law enforcement officers are still enforcing, airport screeners are screening and the Pentagon is defending.

Much of that is due to this being only a partial-partial shutdown.

Some essential services always go on no matter what, such as law enforcement and air traffic management thus every shutdown is only a partial shutdown.

But this one is even more partial because Congress did, in September, manage to approve money for the departments of Defense, Veterans Affairs, Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and other agencies. All told, lawmakers say, nearly 75 percent of discretionary operations are funded, and aren’t affected.

Still, some big departments are without funding now, including Interior, Justice and Homeland Security. A fight over border wall money for Homeland Security is the cause of the current shutdown.

Some operations that otherwise would close during a shutdown say they still have leftover money. That’s true for the Smithsonian, which said its museums and the National Zoo have enough money to operate through Jan. 1.

And in Arizona, the Grand Canyon a national park will stay open, thanks to plans the state has worked out to fill in for federal workers during a shutdown.

“Regardless of what happens in Washington, the Grand Canyon will not close on our watch,” said Gov. Doug Ducey.

While President Trump had agitated for the shutdown for months, it caught much of Washington off guard.

The Office of Personnel Management and the White House Office of Management and Budget, which are the nerve centers for government operations, have been strikingly silent on guidance about the shutdown.

Mr. Trump has delayed his planned Christmas vacation to Florida, and Congress was poised to convene Saturday to see if an agreement could be reached.

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