WASHINGTON – Paralyzed by 16 inches of snow, the federal government in the District of Columbia and surrounding areas remained closed Tuesday.
Office of Personnel Management spokesman Mike Orenstein said Monday that emergency personnel were expected to report to work on time as scheduled, but federal offices in the District, Maryland and Virginia, including courts, the Library of Congress, the monuments on the National Mall and the Smithsonian Museums were to remain shuttered.
"These procedures apply to employees (including employees telecommuting from an alternative worksite) in all executive agencies located inside the Washington Capital Beltway. These procedures do not apply to employees of the U.S. Postal Service, the government of the District of Columbia, or private sector entities, including contractors," the OPM Web site read.
Though postal workers had the day off on Monday because of the President's Day holiday, U.S. Postal Service spokeswoman Deborah Yackley said regular mail service should return on Tuesday. She urged Washington-area residents to clear a path to their mailboxes.
Since the museums were closed on Monday, President Bush canceled his plans to unveil a new exhibit about the presidency at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. The museums are normally open every day but Christmas.
The president, who instead of his usual helicopter ride was forced to take a two-hour drive in a Chevy Suburban that trailed snow plows home from Camp David Sunday, maintained his regular schedule on Tuesday, presiding over a White House swearing-in ceremony for newly confirmed Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman William Donaldson.
And despite claims that when Washington closes down, nothing gets done, Bush kept his meeting Monday with Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga, who made clear that neither excessive snowfall nor opposition from allies nor massive protests throughout Europe have softened the president's resolve for Iraqi disarmament.
"He has reaffirmed his commitment and sees it as the responsibility of United States to guarantee that Saddam Hussein is disarmed. He says we will see to it. We will do it," Vike-Freiberga said after a morning meeting at the White House.
But as debate goes on over military force against Iraq, lawmakers remained absent from Capitol Hill on Tuesday, not because of the snow, but because the President's Day holiday lasts a full week for Congress.
Over at the Supreme Court, where briefs had been due Tuesday in the high-profile University of Michigan affirmative action lawsuit, security personnel urged determined tourists to keep a fair distance from the closed building. On Tuesday, the high court extended the deadline for submitting briefs by 24 hours, citing Tuesday's federal government shut down.
Some city residents originally from northern states were incredulous of the paralysis.
"You know nothing about Washington amuses me anymore so no, I am not amused," said Shelley Smith, a New Hampshire native who used cross-country skies to get around the city.
The city government is responsible for digging Washington out of the snow. Mayor Anthony Williams said crews are working hard to reduce the amount of time it takes to clear streets. But he warned that because of the volume of snow and ice, it could take as long as 60 hours before side streets -- where many of Washington's political elite reside -- are cleaned.
Williams said the storm has put the city way over its snow budget for the year and some city services may have to be cut in the coming months.
In Maryland, where Gov. Robert Ehrlich declared a state of emergency on Sunday, the state had budgeted $21 million for clean-up this season. Already, it has spent $60 million to $65 million. Representatives for Ehrlich, whose state is already in a dire budget crisis, said they are hoping that federal state of emergency money will pay for the deficit.
That state of emergency may not end when the city returns to the living. With temperatures expected to rise to the high 40s on Wednesday and Thursday, public safety officials are also concerned with possible flooding that may occur because of a rapid melt-off of snow.
Fox News' Carl Cameron, Jim Angle and Molly Henneberg contributed to this report.