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Turning off the money spigot

If the federal government shuts down at midnight Friday because of a budget standoff between President Obama and congressional leaders, plenty of federal operations would continue because they're deemed essential.

For example, the locks and dams on the Mississippi River, run by the U.S. Corps of Engineers, would continue to operate, said Corps spokesman Patrick Moes.

Gary Neumann, Rochester's assistant city manager, said if there is a shutdown, the city would be concerned about its bus system and security at the Rochester International Airport because both receive federal funding.

Also, ongoing construction projects that are federally funded could be delayed. These include construction at the airport and on 20th Street Southeast.

"If we have to shut those down or delay them, we could incur more costs," Neumann said.


Research funding from the National Institutes of Health accounts for 41 percent of Mayo Clinic's budget, but Mayo has a contingency plan, a clinic official told the Star Tribune.

"We are confident that if a short-term shutdown does occur, it will not affect day-to-day research operations," said Randy Schubring, Mayo's government relations spokesperson.

The shutdown would close national parks and passport offices, and turn off the IRS taxpayer information hot line just a week before the April 18 filing deadline. But numerous other federal workers would stay on the job, including the military, FBI agents and Coast Guard workers. Social Security payments would still go out and the mail would be delivered.

Minnesota's 1st District DFL Rep. Tim Walz on Friday proposed an amendment that would prevent members of Congress or the president from getting paid if the government shuts down.

"The American people sent us here to work together and solve the country’s problems," Walz said on the floor to his congressional colleagues. "And if we can’t do that, I don’t think we should be taking home a paycheck."

The annual deficit is projected by the White House to reach a record $1.645 trillion in the budget year that ends Sept. 30. Democrats have reportedly offered $33 billion in cuts. House Speaker John Boehner has hinted that Republicans might be able to accept a deal with $40 billion in cuts.

Meanwhile, Republican John Kline said the cuts represent just six months' worth of funding for the remainder of the fiscal year. The real debate will be over 2012's budget, he said.

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