With Congress failing to reach an agreement last night over a spending plan for the new fiscal year, the U.S. government shut down today, leaving many federal agencies with no alternative other than to furlough employees and limit duties.
The consequences of Washington's inaction have already resonated across the country, and New Jersey is no exception.
Here's a quick guide to what may or may not be affected today by the shutdown.
Q: Will federal Sandy relief projects continue?
A: Ed Voigt, a spokesman for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Philadelphia office, said there will be "no change" in the various beach replenishment and other federally funded Sandy relief projects in New Jersey as a result of the shutdown. Because of "previously budgeted money," work will continue up and down the coast with no chance of stoppage in sight.
Q: Obamacare was supposed to roll out today. Will that be affected?
A: Not directly. Despite the House Republicans' efforts to tie the disputed spending bill to either a delay or defunding of the Affordable Care Act, the exchanges are up and running, and should experience no setback as a result of the shutdown. However, insiders are saying informational sessions about the exchanges are being canceled as government workers are furloughed.
RELATED: What you should know about the ACA
Q: Is there concern over the status of federal defense contracts?
A: There is definite concern here. John Dewey, CEO of Oakland-based Dewey Electronics Corp., said Monday while he doesn't think the U.S. government is going away anytime soon, "they sure are working hard to become an inconsistent business partner."
It's not just defense contracts, either. Transportation contractors and others have a lot at stake as the partisan infighting continues.
Q: Federal courts? The U.S. attorney's office?
A: According to a Star-Ledger report, U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman has asked to suspend all civil cases that name the federal government as either a plaintiff or defendant. About 40 percent of Fishman's staff will not come in to work, the paper reported. Federal courts remain open for business, though, and should remain so for at least until next week.
Q: Will Amtrak continue running?
A: With the shutdown looming on Monday, Amtrak issued reassurance to riders on its popular Northeast Corridor line, noting that it "will continue normal operation of its national inter-city and high-speed passenger rail network in the event of a short-term federal shutdown." How long it will do so is an open question, though: Amtrak says it will remain open for business, particularly along the heavily traveled New Jersey corridor, for "the coming days and weeks."
Q: What if I'm flying?
A: Airports in the area should see no hiccups. Air traffic control, security screening and customs inspections will all be staffed. But again, for how long? A Port Authority of New York and New Jersey representative said while no changes are expected, the authority is monitoring the situation.
Q: What about the mail?
A: Because it relies on revenue generated from stamps and other fees, the U.S. Postal Service will be unaffected.
Q: Today, of all days, it just so happens I feel like visiting the Statute of Liberty. What are my chances of walking up to the crown?
A: Zilch. National parks and sites across the country, from Lady Liberty to the Grand Canyon, are closed due to the shutdown. And yes, that includes Sandy Hook, which belongs to the Gateway National Recreation Area.
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