Few federal services assured unless Congress breaks logjam

The U.S. Postal Service will deliver mail next week, even if the rest of the federal government shuts down, and it most likely will deliver Social Security checks.

Beyond that, it’s unclear which federal employees will be on the job Monday and which ones won’t. Federal officials said they will make further announcements today.

U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., meanwhile, dubbed Senate Democrats the “party of no” in the shutdown drama, offering no proposals to GOP offerings.

“You need to get on the phone and call your senators and the president and say you need to stop” with efforts to shut down the federal government, Tipton said. “I hope they do not shut down the government.”

Of the 128 callers on the Tipton teleconference, 57 percent favored a shutdown, and 43 percent opposed it, Tipton’s office said. The callers could vote by pressing 1 or 2 to register their position on the issue.

Tipton’s office invited 30,000 residents of the 3rd Congressional District to call in.

Tipton spoke soon after the House on Thursday voted 247–181 in favor of a measure that would fund the military at current levels through the end of the current fiscal year while cutting spending elsewhere by $12 billion. President Barack Obama said he would veto the bill, and Senate majority leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the bill was a “nonstarter.”

Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., told Colorado reporters Thursday he is frustrated with “these inane conversations regarding whether we’re going to keep the government open or not” in Washington, D.C.

Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., on Thursday ripped into Republicans, saying in a statement that the debate over a government shutdown “is now being held hostage by unrelated Republican policy demands over women’s health services and our clean-air laws.”

“Military families are worried about receiving their paychecks, farmers are waiting for operating loans to put seed in the ground, and people all over the country are still waiting on their tax refunds,” Udall said.

During the government shutdown in 1995, more than 800,000 federal employees were affected, and all of the nation’s federal museums and national parks were closed.

The Department of the Interior said the National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Land Management will close and secure park, refuge and visitor facilities on public lands.

The land-management agencies are to provide additional information as they complete their plans, the Interior Department said.

In 1995, the Social Security Administration mailed checks throughout the nearly month-long shutdown.

Critical personnel, such as special agents for the FBI, will remain on the job, as will other law enforcement officials.

Bennet and Udall are sponsoring a “deficit forum” in Denver today with former U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson, R-Wyo., who co-chaired the president’s fiscal commission.

The commission recommended $4 trillion in spending cuts over the next 10 years. Bennet and Udall have called for the proposal to be put to a vote in Congress.

In Utah, Gov. Gary Herbert directed state agencies to prepare contingency plans for operations in the event of a shutdown, including identifying programs most at risk of interruption of funding from the federal government. Utah officials are to stop incurring expenses beyond the date that federal funding is available.

The Postal Service won’t be affected by a shutdown because the agency receives no tax funds and derives its budget from the sale of postage and mailing services.

“We would continue to operate with all post offices being open and the mail being delivered and all postal employees nationwide working as usual,” Postal Service spokesman Al Desarro in Denver said.


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