Just What Happens If Government Shuts Down?

@AFP

capitol building

Washington (AFP) – A government shutdown is looming. Congress is struggling to pass a stopgap budget measure that would keep the doors open beyond the fiscal year, which ends at midnight September 30.

But with congressional bickering in full swing, and the deadline less than four days away, there is increasing anxiety about who and what will be affected.

During the previous two shutdowns, for six days in November 1995 and 21 days from December that year into early 1996, some 800,000 federal employees were ordered to stay home, according to a congressional report.

Here is a snapshot of what is likely to occur in the event Congress can not agree on a federal spending bill by October 1.

AFP/ Mark Wilson

WHITE HOUSE AND CONGRESS

white house night

These facilities will remain open, although both are likely to furlough some staff. The State Department has said it will temporarily furlough non-essential staff too.

Photo: Tom Lohdan via Flickr.com

PENTAGON AND NATIONAL SECURITY

Pentagon
Military personnel will remain on duty, although the Department of Defense says there may be delays in their paycheck processing. More than half of the department’s 800,000 civilian employees are expected to be furloughed, and the Pentagon has warned of likely “hardships” for many workers.

National security services will remain operational, such as U.S. border patrol and airport screeners. Personnel who are deemed to “protect life and property,” such as emergency service providers like disaster response teams, would stay on duty.

Photo: gregwest98 via Flickr.com

MEDICAL RESEARCH

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The National Institutes of Health (NIH) could be severely impacted. It would not be allowed to begin new clinical trials or see new patients.

MUSEUMS AND PARKS

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The Smithsonian museums and all 368 sites in the National Park Service system would close. Seven million tourists were affected during the last shutdown.

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

epachief

EPA administrator Gina McCarthy warned that the agency “effectively shuts down.” That means virtually no one monitoring or enforcing air and water quality or oil pollution regulations.

POSTAL SERVICE

posttruck
Since the U.S. Postal Service has its own independent sources of funding, it remains open, as does the Federal Reserve.

SOCIAL SECURITY

social security
Most entitlement programs will continue, although there will be hiccups. Social Security checks will be mailed, but Social Security offices will close. Military veterans will receive their benefits as well, but disability claims will be backlogged. Veterans hospitals will remain open.

Photo: Donkey Hotey via Flickr.com

WASHINGTON, D.C.

Washington DC
Congress is granted exclusive jurisdiction over the U.S. capital, and during the 1995-96 shutdown, the city was the focus of embarrassment as it halted its trash collection. Now, Mayor Vincent Gray says he will declare all city employees as “essential personnel” in the event of a shutdown, and use a contingency cash reserve fund to pay wages.

Photo: HarshLight via Flickr.com

ECONOMY

Wall Street
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Friday that a temporary shutdown would “shatter our economy.” That may be hyperbole, but the impact could well be significant. According to Macroeconomic Advisers, the effect on fourth-quarter GDP grown of a two-week shutdown beginning October 1 would be 0.3 percentage points.

AFP/Stan Honda

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