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What Services Will Continue If The Government Shuts Down?

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(credit: CBS) Pat Kessler
Pat Kessler knows Minnesota politics. He's been on the beat long...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — With hours left before a shutdown, President Obama addressed the nation – placing blame squarely on a small group of Republicans.

“One faction of one party in one house of Congress in one branch of government doesn’t get to shut down the entire government just to refight the results of an election.” Obama said.

But Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner stood his ground, hoping to delay the start of “Obamacare” for a year.

“This is a matter of funding the government and providing fairness to the American people. Why wouldn’t members of Congress vote for it?”

Thousands of federal workers in Minnesota could be furloughed Tuesday. That will happen if Congress can’t reach an agreement to fund the federal government by midnight Monday.

Republicans say they’re prepared to fund the government, but only if the new health care law is defunded or delayed. Democrats won’t agree.

Some 18,000 federal workers in Minnesota could go without paychecks starting Tuesday.

Many — or most — of them could be sent home, and that means disruption in the services we’ve come to expect.

The Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge in Bloomington is not considered essential. But for visitors, closing it during a possible shutdown is a symbol of government in gridlock.

“We send these people to Washington and keep this country running, and they just want to shut it down because they can’t get along and act like adults,” said Wayne Winslow, of Orange County, Calif., who was visiting the wildlife refuge Monday. “So it’s very frustrating.”

From Fort Snelling National Cemetery workers to TSA officers at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, thousands of Minnesota federal employees are in limbo.

And the union representing them is predicting service disruptions.

“Tomorrow, the employees are all supposed to show up, come in to work, find out if they are deemed essential or nonessential,” said Jane Nygaard of the American Federation of Government Employees. “And if they are deemed nonessential, they’ll be sent home. And if they are deemed essential, they’ll work without pay.”

Some services will continue: mail will be delivered; Social Security checks will go out; the Veteran’s Hospital will be open; and air traffic control towers will operate.

But all national parks will close, including Voyageurs; passports and visas will not be processed; and federal highway contracts will be put on hold.

One thing that won’t change? Members of Congress will be paid.

“I don’t think that’s fair,” said Kathy Winslow, of Orange County, Calif. “If they are shutting down government, they should be the ones who get shut down. If they can’t play nice in the sandbox, they shouldn’t get paid. That’s their job.”

A government shutdown appears all but certain. But House Republicans are working through the night to come up with a plan. If nothing happens by midnight, the government shuts down at 12:01 a.m. Eastern Standard Time.

But even if the government shuts down, the Affordable Care Act – or Obamacare — will go online as planned Tuesday.

It’s funded by mandatory spending, so the health care exchanges will operate as normal.

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