Vacations and travel plans may be at risk if the government shuts down this weekend.
Major media outlets are reporting that Wednesday’s late night meeting between lawmakers at the White House failed to produce a budget deal. The Smithsonian is estimating that a government shutdown that starts this Saturday would mean approximately 500,000 visitors would be turned away from the major Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo this weekend. It’s estimated that 9 million visitors were turned away from closed national parks, monuments and museums the last time the Government shut down over similar budget battles, in late 1996 and early 1997. According to the Florida Times Union, during the 1996/97 shutdowns, 200,000 passport requests were delayed when State Department workers were sent home.
If lawmakers are unable to agree on a plan by Friday evening, even the final weekend of the National Cherry Blossom Festival would be affected. Saturday’s parade is a National Park Service event.
In the case of a government shutdown, the Obama administration is estimating that 800,000 federal workers will be out of work for the duration of the shutdown. Essential personal, mostly involved in safety and the protection of property, will stay on. The US Postal Service, which is self funded, will continue to operate. While getting passports from the State Department may be an issue, FAA flight controllers and TSA security screenings are expected to continue as normal, at least for the short term.