If D.C. closes, some doors stay open Various federal services would stay in operation

November 10, 1995|By John B. O'Donnell and Brad Snyder | John B. O'Donnell and Brad Snyder,SUN NATIONAL STAFF

WASHINGTON -- The IRS will collect taxes, but don't call for information. Museums in Washington will close. But money will be printed. Half the classes at the Naval Academy will be canceled, but the midshipmen will be fed and paid.

The shuttle will fly but most NASA workers at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt will be sent home.

A temporary appropriations bill that has kept the government running since Oct. 1 runs out at midnight Monday. If Congress and President Clinton fail to reach agreement on a new measure, a federal government "shutdown" is expected. Some 800,000 workers will be furloughed, but most of the 2 million civilian employees will remain on the job.

Essential services will continue -- for example, the mail will be delivered and flights will be guided by the air traffic controllers.

The White House told federal agencies yesterday that everyone should report to work Tuesday. If a spending bill hasn't been enacted and the impasse is expected to continue into Wednesday, federal agencies should send their "non-excepted" employees home within three hours, Alice M. Rivlin, the budget chief, said yesterday.

The impact will vary from agency to agency.

The Defense Department will keep 571,000 of its 850,000 civilian workers on the job, along with the 1.5 million military personnel.

The Social Security Administration will send all but 4,780 of its 66,000 workers home, said Phil Gambino, the agency's spokesman.

In the Baltimore area, only 623 of Social Security's 13,864 workers will elude the furlough. Nationwide, each of Social Security's 1,300 field offices will have three employees on duty to handle emergencies. Retirement and disability claims won't be taken, nor will the nationwide toll-free number be answered.

In Annapolis, "a significant number" of the 1,500 or so civilian workers at the Naval Academy will remain on the job to protect health and safety, said Karen Myers, a spokeswoman. The 4,000 midshipmen will have to go to classes -- but only to those that are taught by military instructors. The civilians who make up 50 percent of the faculty will be told to go home.

In Greenbelt, only 100 of the 3,643 Goddard Space Flight Center workers will be on the job, said said Brian Welch, a spokesman for NASA. But, if all goes according to schedule, the shuttle Atlantis will be nearly half way through a nine-day mission scheduled to begin tomorrow. If Atlantis is launched on schedule, it will rendezvous Tuesday with the Russian space station Mir.

Even with the shuttle circling Earth, more than 93 percent of the NASA's 21,347 civilian workers will be told to leave.

In Washington, many popular tourist attractions will close, including the Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo.

The Bureau of Printing and Engraving, which is not a congressionally funded agency, will print about $455 million on Tuesday, according to spokesman Larry Felix. The usual tours will run between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. for those who want to watch the presses roll.

"Anything we can lock up will be locked up," said park service spokeswoman Sandra Alley.

If there is a government shutdown, it won't be the first. Government workers were furloughed for a day in 1981 and for a half day in 1986. The most recent furlough, in 1990, occurred on the Columbus Day holiday, a long weekend when most federal workers were off anyway.

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