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Potential Government Shutdown Could Shutter Local Tourist Attractions

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Independence Hall. (Credit: Jim Melwert)

Independence Hall. (Credit: Jim Melwert)

Jim Melwert Jim Melwert
Jim is a "morning drive" reporter for KYW Newsradio 1060, bringing...
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By Jim Melwert, Kim Glovas

PHILADELPHIA (CBS/AP) – The federal government faces a partial shutdown at midnight tonight if Congress can’t pass a continuing resolution to fund the government. The House passed a bill early Sunday morning that would avoid a government shutdown, but delay the Affordable Care Act by one year. Democratic leaders say the bill won’t pass the Senate and President Obama promises a veto.

The stalemate in Washington has people here shaking their head.

“It’s not even politics anymore,” said one visitor to Independence Mall. “It’s just both sides trying to one-up each other. It’s disappointing.”

A potential government shutdown could have an impact on our area.

One of the first things to be affected would be the National Parks Service. All National Parks would close if a deal isn’t reached by 11:59 tonight. That means the Liberty Bell and Independence Mall would be shuttered to the nearly 10,000 people who visit each day. And the nearly 200 employees of Independence National Historical Park would get furlough notices when they show up for work tomorrow. The same goes for Valley Forge National Historical Park.

Jane Cowley with the Independence National Historical Park, says at this point, the park staff is proceeding as usual.

“We remain hopeful that the federal government will not shut down tomorrow, that there will not be a lapse in appropriations, but we are making plans for that possibility,” Cowley said.

She says if the shutdown occurs, none of the park employees will work, with the exception of law enforcement to ensure that the park is secured. As for tourists, especially school groups.

“We do get a lot of school groups coming through in the fall and of course they would also be turned away,” Cowley said.

The National Constitution Center would remain open.

And visitors to Independence Mall this morning think the shutdown could have an even bigger effect than just the parks.

“Oh, I think it’ll have a big effect,” said one tourist. “No people — nobody’s going to be going into the stores to eat or buy anything. I don’t know how they can do that, this is history. Look at all these people.”

The military’s 1.4 million active-duty personnel would remain on duty, but their paychecks would be delayed.

The State Department would continue processing visas and passport applications, but offices in federally-owned buildings could be affected. Gun permits will not be processed.

As for Philadelphia International Airport, federal air traffic controllers would remain on the job, and airport screeners would keep those security checkpoints open.

Social Security and Medicare benefits would keep coming, and unemployment benefits would still go out. And mail deliveries would continue as usual.

Asking people their idea of the men and women in Congress, most people seemed to be of one mind:

“You don’t want to hear it.”

“Bunch of scumbags. They should get their act together.”

“Just wipe the whole Congress out and start all over.”

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