The "Essential" vs. "Non-Essential" shuffle

10:11 PM, Oct 7, 2013   |    comments
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WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- Make no mistake, the government shutdown is affecting us all, and a lot comes down to who's considered "essential." 

The Department of Veterans Affairs considers 95% of their workers "essential" while the USDA has sent just about everyone home. Tonight, we are questioning who's essential? 

Take a look at the incredible video of the car chase-turned-chaos by the White House captured by a news photographer last week, and you'll see many "essential" employees. The Capitol Police officers who chased down an out-of-control car from the White House to the Capitol last week are considered essential, but are not getting a paycheck.  

Who is considered non-essential? The National Transportation Safety Board investigator that would have responded to this past weekend's deadly Metro track work accident that killed a contractor, and injured two Metro workers. 

67% of Department of Transportation workers are considered essential. What's not? The answer is, drug tests for them, and that includes the people whose job it is to control our air traffic.   

Stuck between an essential and a non-essential place are services for victims of domestic violence. 

Karma Cottman runs the DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Mayor Vincent Gray deemed the entire District essential, but she says that's only until the money runs out, "As of next week, we'll be trying to figure out how protection orders get delivered, we'll be trying to figure out how a victim can access a rape exam if something were to happen. We're talking about people who need access to basic needs, food, a roof over their heads, that are provided by these shelter programs and none of those will be there because the funds will not be available."

Right now, the USDA website is down. That's how the Amber Alert website looked until now. The federal website that broadcasts alerts on abducted children was down, it's now back up, and the Justice Department says that was just the website, the alerts were not affected. 

The most non-essential large government agency? NASA. Only 3% of it's workers are on the job. That's because the space agency doesn't have a launch schedule until November. 

Who's Essential? 

USDA Risk Management Agency 0%
Federal Maritime Commission 0%
Environmental Protection Agency 6%
Internal Revenue Service 9.3%.
Department of Treasury 18%
Department of Interior 20%
Department of Labor 22%.
Department of Transportation 67%
Department of Veterans Affairs 95% 

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