- Barring a major development in funding negotiations, the federal government will shut down at midnight on Dec. 22.
- During the shutdown, 800,000 federal workers will either be furloughed or forced to go without their salaries.
- While essential services like Social Security, Medicare and the military should be unaffected, many more will be unavailable until a new spending bill is passed.
With a midnight deadline to find a solution, the federal government appears headed for a partial shutdown before Christmas unless President Donald Trump shows some flexibility with his demand that $5 billion in funding for a wall on the southern border be included in the stop-gap budget measure.
Speaking to reporters on the afternoon of Friday, Dec. 21, Trump said “The chances are probably very good” that a shutdown occurs. “We’re totally prepared for a very long shutdown.”
The Senate had already passed a continuing resolution on Dec. 19 that would fund the government through Feb. 8, after it appeared the President was willing to sign it into law, but the next day he tweeted that he would veto the Senate bill, prompting the House to pass the measure with $5.7 billion for building the wall. That measure doesn’t appear to have the necessary support to pass the Senate, making it appear more and more likely the government will shut down at midnight.
But what exactly would that entail? Should you reschedule Christmas plans to visit a national park? Or should you be worried that your Social Security checks won’t arrive on time? Here’s a closer look at how political conditions could affect you.
Much of the Government Remains Open…
More news coverage might want to emphasize the “partial” part of this potential shutdown, as about three-quarters of government agencies are already funded through September 2019. However, the remaining 25 percent includes the departments of Homeland Security, Justice and State.
Roughly 420,000 workers with roles deemed essential to the functioning of government will be on the job despite the furloughs.
…But a Lot of People Aren’t Getting Paid
The bad news for those 420,000 workers is that they will be working without paychecks. While they should be made whole eventually, their pay will be withheld until the shutdown is over. And while being deprived of a paycheck during the holidays is less than ideal, the situation is likely preferable to the 380,000 government employees who will get furloughed — meaning they’ll be placed on leave without pay and will neither be getting paid nor eventually earning wages that would have occurred during the shutdown.
While indirect, even a partial shutdown could have a profound economic impact on communities where many of these government workers not receiving their scheduled salary reside. So, if you live in Washington, D.C., try and enjoy any breaks in traffic you’re getting, because they’re coming at a steep cost.
The Post Office, Military, Social Security and Medicare Should Function as Normal
With 75 percent of the government funded and concessions made to ensure essential services continue, plenty of the most important ways you interact with the federal government shouldn’t be interrupted. Social Security checks will be issued as usual, the military will still be conducting operations, mail will continue to be delivered, veterans benefits will go out and Medicare and Medicaid should function as normal during the shutdown.
Many Other Services Will Be Interrupted
However, plenty of other important services will be interrupted during the shutdown. The FDA will stop doing routine checks not deemed “essential,” the Environmental Protection Agency will be closed, small businesses won’t be able to access loans or technical assistance through the Small Business Administration and the closure of the Federal Housing Administration means many Americans won’t be able to get help buying a new home.
National Parks Will Be Without Visitor Services
The Department of the Interior is among the agencies in that 25 percent of the government that’s unfunded after Friday, meaning the National Parks Service will send home most of its employees. While you might still be able to go to the national parks themselves, most of the facilities and services will not be available. During the last shutdown in January, there was no staff to maintain restrooms or trash collection, and staff not essential to responding to emergencies was furloughed.
So if your holiday plans involved a camping trip to a national park — or anywhere else operated by the NPS — you might reconsider for safety reasons. Many national parks may close entirely– as of publication, no plan of action has been released by the NPS.
Keep reading to learn about the most expensive government shutdowns in history, and find out how much this shutdown could cost.
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