Grocery stores on Army bases in the U.S. are closed. The golf course at Andrews Air Force base is open.
All 128 employees of the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corp. are working, while 3,000 safety inspectors employed by the Federal Aviation Administration are off the job.
The Food and Drug Administration is reviewing new pharmaceuticals. The National Institutes of Health is turning away new patients for clinical trials.
The seeming randomness of the U.S. government’s first shutdown in 17 years can be explained in part by anomalies in the spending Congress does and doesn’t control. Activities funded by fees from drug, financial-services and other companies are insulated from year-to-year budget dysfunction. The ones that get a budget from Congress get hit.
“What’s really happening in America is that the appropriations process has completely failed,” said Elaine Kamarck, a senior fellow in governance at the Brookings Institution in Washington who worked in the White House during the last shutdown in 1995-96.
This isn’t government according to U.S. civics textbooks. Government is supposed to collect taxes, the president is supposed to propose each year how to spend the money, and Congress has the final say with the constitutional power of the purse.
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