How does the Federal "shutdown" affect our region? - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

How does the Federal "shutdown" affect our region?

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COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -

The government shutdown started at midnight this morning and it doesn't appear that the conflict in Washington will be ending soon.

As I drove around town today, I was expecting to be visiting a lot of buildings with locked doors, but as I soon found out, there are very few federal agencies that are closed altogether.

It's not the type of situation I had in mind when I first heard the phrase "government shutdown."

It was announced on Capitol Hill that government services will be suspended indefinitely until Republicans and Democrats can come to an agreement about the budget. That means everyone except the most essential personnel will out of a job until further notice.

But here in Columbus, it seems like just about every federal service is considered essential, and impact is not so obvious.

The first place I visited was the post office, where mail is still being delivered and everything is business as usual. Customers are glad that this operation is self-funded through the sale of stamps and not dependent on Washington.

"That would be very inconvenient for me because I wouldn't be able to cash my money orders anywhere around town," said postal customer, Sammy Cowan.

"It would be real bad for me, because I get my medicine through the mail from the V.A.," said Mario Drullat of Fort Mitchell.

Speaking of Veteran's Affairs, some of their services like claim processing may slow down, but they won't shut down altogether. Everyone who is receiving checks or medicine will still get it on time.

Agencies like Homeland Security and the T.S.A. are still keeping watch and air traffic controllers are making sure planes take off and land safely. Federal courts are still open in Columbus and at Fort Benning, the commissary and I.D. services are the only two places that will be closed altogether.

Some Department of Defense employees will be furloughed, but uniformed service members are not affected.

National parks and museums across the country are supposed to be closed, but when I visited our own national infantry museum, I had no trouble getting through the doors. Only four exhibits in the entire building are closed.

Officials at the museum explained to me that they get to stay open because for the most part, they are privately funded by charitable contributions. The Army is only in charge of a few displays in the basement of the building and those are ones that you're going to miss.

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