The partial shutdown of the federal government will have a direct effect on some services in Idaho, including the Idaho Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children.
According to a news release from the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare on Wednesday, the WIC program has gotten funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture so it can continue to honor vouchers and offer clinical services through the end of October.
If the federal shutdown lasts longer than a month, benefits and services for the Idaho WIC program could be temporarily disrupted.
Also affected are campgrounds on federal lands closing.
Col. Tim Marsano says about half of the Idaho National Guard employees are banned from duty until the shutdown is lifted.
U.S. Attorney for Idaho Wendy Olson said about half her staff has been furloughed, and attorneys are expecting to file motions to temporarily halt court proceedings in civil cases.
The Idaho Fish and Game Department has given information about the shutdown's effects on outdoor recreation at http://bit.ly/1aJ25od.
U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, released the following questions and answers about the government shutdown:
Q: Will I continue to receive my mail?
A: Yes. The U.S. Postal service functions as an independent organization. The Idaho Falls Post Office also said it will continue to process passports.
Q: Will I continue to get my Social Security benefits?
A: Yes. Social Security is considered a “mandatory” program and is not dependent on appropriations to continue dispensing benefits. However, the Social Security Administration is impacted, but it is believed they would be sufficiently staffed to ensure payments are continued to be made.
Q: Will the IRS continue to collect taxes?
A: Yes. All payments can still be processed. However, it is possible that refunds could be delayed and all audit activities by the IRS will be suspended.
Q: Can I go to a national park?
A: No. The National Park Service has closed entrances and told all visitors to leave. Anyone already in the parks will have to leave within two days.
Q: Will museums in Washington, D.C. be closed?
A: Yes. The Smithsonian, Archives, National Zoo, Holocaust Museum and monuments are closed to the public.
Q: Will food safety inspections occur?
A: Safety related inspections will continue, but some investigations into violations could be impacted.
Q: Will a shutdown stop the implementation of Obamacare?
A: No. The state-run exchanges will open as scheduled. Similar to Social Security and Medicare, most of the funding for the exchanges is mandatory funding not impacted by appropriations.
Q: Will I still receive unemployment benefits or food stamps?
A: Yes. The Employment and Training Administration has said it will provide essential functions, including dispensing unemployment benefits. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has said SNAP (food stamps) is funded for another year.
Q: Can I receive WIC benefits?
A: No money is available to pay for the administrative costs of WIC at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. However, states do administer the program, so funding may be available.
Q: Will the federal school lunch program stay in effect?
A: The U.S. Department of Agriculture has said that most schools will be able to provide meals through October.
Q: Will airports stay open?
A: The Transportation Security Administration has said passengers should see little change at security. There are furloughs at TSA but essential employees will continue to work.
Q: Will federal prisons, border patrol, emergency medical facilities, law enforcement and disaster response continue functioning?
A: Yes. Any employee who is considered to be essential to protecting life and property will remain in place.
Q: Will troops be paid?
A: Yes. Congress passed legislation Monday to ensure members of the armed forces get paid on time as normal. Furloughed civilian workers won’t be paid unless Congress passes legislation restoring lost income when the shutdown ends.