— So there’s a whole lot of ways to take this, but it looks like the North Coast Railroad Authority is preparing to officially ask for proposals to railbank the Eel River Canyon at its board’s regular meeting next week. This follows upon the testy hearing on the subject last month in Eureka, during which messianic Eel River trail advocate Chris Weston engaged in shouting matches with the NCRA board and a dozen ranchers rose up and condemned the prospect of a trail through the region.

It’s impossible to believe that the Westonites suddenly converted the hearts of the NCRA board members at that meeting, given that the majority of those members consistently scorn trail advocates in general, and, at that meeting, Weston in particular. So what is happening here? A reasonable guess might involve the Environmental Impact Report that the NCRA has been drawing up. If you look like you’re officially abandoning the idea of hauling millions of tons of gravel out of the canyon, then your environmental impact doesn’t seem quite so severe. 

That’s a guess. Time will tell.

— The federal government is probably going to implode Monday, given that budget discussions between Congressional Democrats and Republicans have been fruitless. Rep. Mike Thompson sent out a memo to constituents outlining what will happen if the government shuts down. Read it after the jump.

As your representative in Washington, I am committed to avoiding a government shutdown.  A shutdown would affect millions of Americans, threaten vital services, and jeopardize our nation’s fragile economic recovery.

I remain hopeful that a shutdown can still be prevented and will continue to work hard to avoid that unnecessary outcome.  However, in the event a shutdown does occur, I wanted to make the following information available to you regarding government services.

These critical services would not be affected:

  • Social Security checks for seniors, people with disabilities and survivors would still go out. However, new Social Security applications will likely not be processed during a shutdown.
  • Critical homeland security functions such as border security would continue.
  • The Postal Service, which is self-funded, would continue to operate.
  • The FAA would keep the air traffic control system open and safe.

However, some services would likely be affected:

  • Unemployment benefits: The federal funds that help states pay the costs of their unemployment programs could be affected, depending on the length of the shutdown.
  • Veterans’ services: While VA hospitals will remain open, veterans’ benefits could be delayed or reduced, as was the case during the last shutdown.
  • National parks: National parks and the National Wildlife Refuge Systems would be among the first places to close if the government shuts down.
  • Military: Our troops will continue to serve, but sadly their pay may be put on hold.
  • Passports: Passport and visa applications will not be processed.  In the 1996 shutdown, over 200,000 passport applications and 30,000 daily visa applications went unprocessed.
  • IRS: Although the IRS would continue to process electronic filings, it would not process paper filings. Tax refunds for some returns would be suspended.
  • Federal loans: FHA new home loan guarantees may cease. Additionally, SBA approval of applications for business loan guarantees and direct loans to small businesses would likely cease, impacting the engines of our economy and potentially slowing the economic recovery. Farm loans and farm payments would also cease.

My staff and I are working hard to avoid a shutdown of our government, and we are prepared to answer any questions you may have should a shutdown occur. Please feel free to contact my Washington, D.C. office at (202) 225-3311 or send me a message through my website: https://mikethompson.house.gov/Contact/default.aspx.