How a Federal Government Shutdown Will and Won’t Affect You

Author: Trudy Ring

If the federal government shuts down due to lack of a spending deal in Congress, Americans will be affected in myriad ways.

If the U.S. House and Senate do not agree on the 12 pending fiscal year 2024 appropriations bills by this weekend or pass a continuing resolution — a short-term, stopgap funding measure — the government will run out of money, at least money it’s been authorized to spend, Sunday at 12:01 a.m. (There’s an exception for certain essential programs for which permanent or multiyear funding has been approved.) The Senate is on track toward approving a continuing resolution, but the Republican-majority House is resistant.

Speaker Kevin McCarthy has rejected the Senate’s continuing resolution and is pushing a House version, but he’s getting opposition from the most conservative of his fellow GOPers. Those in the latter category prefer to wait to act on bills that would provide funding for the full fiscal year. Far-right House members are pushing versions of the appropriations bills that include many anti-LGBTQ+ provisions, which the Democratic-led Senate is unlikely to agree to.

If you are a federal employee or a member of your household is, you probably already know you’ll be in for some hardship. There are about 4 million U.S. government employees, and while those who are considered essential (like the armed forces and border security) will stay on the job if there’s a shutdown, others will be furloughed — and on the job or furloughed, none will get paid until the shutdown is over.

Here are some of the other effects of a shutdown.

Travel will be more difficult

Air traffic controllers and Transportation Security Administration personnel would have to work without pay, and during other shutdowns, many of them were unwilling to, as some had to take alternative jobs temporarily.

“In previous shutdowns, this led to significant delays and longer wait times for travelers at airports across the country,” says a White House news release. It also would mean a halt to air traffic controller training, interrupting progress toward filling a large number of controller openings.

There are more than 13,000 air traffic controllers and 50,000 TSA officers, along with thousands of other employees of the TSA and the Federal Aviation Administration.

Also, some passport facilities may close, according to the State Department. So if you need a new or renewed passport — or need to change your name on it — you might not be able to.

Social Security checks and Medicare/Medicaid payments will continue to go out, as they’re considered essential spending, but some activities of these agencies will be curtailed. Benefits under health insurance plans bought through the Affordable Care Act will continue as well.

“Checks will continue to go out,” Bill Sweeney, senior vice president of government affairs at AARP, told CNBC. “The people whose job it is to get those checks out will be continuing to come to work.”

That includes Social Security disability checks, but hearings, appeals, and some other activities surrounding disability claims may be delayed.

New and replacement Social Security cards will still be available, which is of particular interest to those seeking a name change on a card. Replacement Medicare cards won’t be issued, however. Overpayment processing, earnings corrections, and certain other services will cease too.

Other federal benefits programs will likely run into problems

People who are receiving food assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, “will receive benefits through October, but what happens after that is unknown,” CNN reports. The Department of Agriculture, which administers this and other programs, also expects to run out of funds for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, a.k.a. WIC, even if the shutdown lasts just a few days. States may be able to pick up the slack.

Like WIC, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, which provides cash payments for people with low incomes, will have to rely mostly on state funds as well.

New orders by food banks won’t be filled, and funding to Meals on Wheels and other organizations that deliver meals to seniors or people with serious illnesses will see federal funding delayed. Funds for free or reduced-cost school lunches are expected to run out soon.

Schools won’t get federal funds

If a shutdown lasts more than a week, it “would severely curtail the cash flow to school districts, colleges and universities,” according to the Department of Education. About 10 percent of the nation’s school districts rely on federal funds for more than 15 percent of their budget.

Many Head Start programs for preschool children will probably shut down.

Services relating to student financial aid will continue for a limited time but may well be disrupted during a lengthy shutdown.

But wait, there’s more

The Food and Drug Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, and Occupational Safety and Health Administration would have to discontinue many of their activities aimed at protecting Americans. Disaster assistance is expected to be delayed or seriously reduced, so hope your area doesn’t get hit by a major storm, earthquake, or industrial accident. Many federally funded museums and presidential libraries will close temporarily. National parks probably won’t all close, but they will likely have reduced staff for maintenance and other activities, so things may get messy and vandals may take advantage. This looks like a good time for a staycation.

Pictured, from left: Republican U.S. Reps. Ryan Zinke, Kevin McCarthy, Claudia Tenney, and August Pfluger

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Original Article on The Advocate
Author: Trudy Ring

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