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Government Shutdown = Travel Shutdown?

Will the federal government’s shutdown on October 1 bring your travel plans to a halt?

The short answer is, not completely. As far as we can tell now, FAA air-traffic controllers, TSA screeners, and customs/immigration agents will remain on the job. Presumably, the two big federally owned airports, Dulles and Reagan National in Washington, D.C., will be operating close to normally. However, travelers should expect delays at security, since the majority of nonessential TSA employees will be furloughed. 

But other federal facilities and services will probably close up shop for the duration. That includes the federally owned resource agencies such as the National Park Service and the many public buildings in Washington, including the Smithsonian museums, historical buildings, and national parks. Paperwork operations such as passport and visa applications will also likely be delayed.

So at least in the near future, the net result is that you’ll probably be able to get where you’re going, but you may face a curtailed menu things to do when you get there. Long-term, you may face more problems. It’s not clear, for example, whether local visitor facilities, Amtrak, and transit systems that depend partially on government subsidy will be able to operate indefinitely, nor is it known how long the shutdown will last. 

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