WASHINGTON — Four years ago, after Congress failed to agree on funding and the government shut down, National Park Service employees rolled out barricades at many D.C. monuments and other national parks nationwide.
Things might look a little different this time.
Trump administration budget chief Mick Mulvaney said national parks would remain open past midnight Friday — the deadline for when government funding officially runs out.
“We are going to manage the shutdown differently. We are not going to weaponize it,” Mulvaney said at a White House briefing Friday morning.
Meanwhile, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser called a news conference from the National Mall Friday morning to assure residents the District government would remain open and continue to provide uninterrupted service.
“Regardless of whether or not the federal government shuts down, D.C. government will be open for business,” Bowser said.
City officials reiterated Friday a potential shutdown would have no effect on city trash collection, traffic monitoring, first responders and public safety activities.
And Bowser said she has called on her agencies “where we are able, to step in for the federal government.”
D.C. Department of Public Works Director Chris Shorter said the District would be collecting trash on the National Mall and 126 other national parks throughout D.C. and servicing 372 litter cans on federal land throughout the city during a shutdown.
“While we are picking up the slack for the federal government, I want to assure all District residents that the city services that they count on, such as trash, recycling collections as well as parking enforcement will continue as normal,” Shorter said.
Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice Kevin Donohue said the extra work for trash collection on federal land would amount to about $100,000 per week in personnel costs. Bowser said the city will be tracking those costs and plans to seek reimbursement from the federal government.
Park Service: Parks open, marches will continue
The Interior Department, which oversees all national parks in D.C. and everywhere else, is promising that “National Parks and other public lands will remain as accessible as possible.”
That means that monuments and memorials along the National Mall will remain accessible to anyone who wants to walk around. However park rangers and concession stands there to serve visitors won’t be around to help this time. And the park service concedes that “services that require staffing and maintenance such as campgrounds, full service restrooms, and concessions that require some park staff or assistance will not be operating.”
Mike Litterst, spokesman for the National Park Service, told WTOP the shutdown would not effect any marches or events already scheduled.
Rock Creek Park will remain open for anyone who wants to walk or jog along the trails, even though it’s a national park.
Smithsonian open at least through Monday
On Saturday, the Smithsonian Institution said in a tweet that The Smithsonian and its 19 museums will remain open on Monday.
Update: The Smithsonian, including its museums, research centers & the National Zoo, will be OPEN Monday, Jan. 22.
The Smithsonian can use prior year funds still available to us to do so. We will update our status beyond Monday as soon as we know. #governmentshutdown
— Smithsonian (@smithsonian) January 20, 2018
The Library of Congress said Saturday that it will be closed until further notice.
The U.S. Postal Service tweeted Saturday that service will remain uninterrupted.
USPS operations will not be interrupted due to the Gov’t shutdown, & all Post Offices will remain open for business as usual. Because we are an independent entity that is funded through the sale of our products & services, & not by tax dollars, USPS will not be impacted. pic.twitter.com/FS7kyvlONV
— U.S. Postal Service (@USPS) January 20, 2018
At the White House press briefing, Trump administration officials said the shutdown would not affect active-duty military personnel, border patrol agents, firefighters, the post office or airport security screeners. However, many federal employees will be working without pay for however long the shutdown lasts.
All told, about 800,000 federal workers are expected to be furloughed.
D.C. officials acknowledged the city — with its large concentration of federal employees — would be among the “hardest hit” by the potential shutdown.
Officials said the Department of Employment Services is ready to assist furloughed federal employees by processing unemployment applications. Contractors may also be entitled to unemployment benefits, officials said.
D.C. government is able to remain open thanks to a measure championed by D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton that allows D.C. to use local funding to stay open during federal shutdowns. During the 2013 shutdown — and previous shutdown threats — the District government had to prepare detailed contingency planning when they faced the threat of a shutdown.
Most proceedings and deadlines will happen as schedule, though some hearing and filing dates may be rescheduled.
The federal Judiciary will remain open and can continue operations for approximately three weeks through Feb. 9 by using court fee balances and other funds not dependent on a new appropriation.
Case management/Electronic Case Files will also remain in operation.
If the shutdown continues past three weeks, the Judiciary would then operate under the terms of the Anti-Deficiency Act, which allows work to continue during a lapse in appropriations if it is necessary to support the exercise of Article III judicial powers. Under this scenario, each court and federal defender’s office would determine the staffing resources necessary to support such work.
WTOP’s Patrick Roth, John Domen, John Aaron and Neal Augenstein contributed to this report.