Washington, D.C. – The country is just four days away from a possible government shutdown, with ongoing disagreements among House Republicans preventing Congress from passing crucial spending bills.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is pushing for progress as the lower chamber works on appropriations bills that will shape the federal budget. A deal must be reached this week to avoid a shutdown by October 1.
Meanwhile, the Senate is aiming to pass a continuing resolution, a temporary funding bill to keep federal agencies running for 45 more days and prevent a shutdown. However, this move could pose political risks for McCarthy, as some hardline conservatives demand his removal if he collaborates with Democrats or backs a continuing resolution.
Here’s what this situation means for you.
What is a Government Shutdown?
A government shutdown occurs when non-essential federal agencies and services stop their operations. Essential services, like the U.S. Postal Service, Medicare, and Social Security, continue functioning even during a shutdown. However, the closure of non-essential functions can still have significant impacts on federal employees and the general public. Federal workers may face furloughs, food assistance benefits could be delayed, and certain food safety inspections might be postponed.
What Are the Chances of a Government Shutdown?
The possibility of a government shutdown depends on whether lawmakers can agree on a spending plan by September 30. If they reach a compromise or pass a temporary measure like a continuing resolution, a shutdown can be avoided. However, disagreements persist in Congress, making both options currently unlikely. Efforts to find a bipartisan solution are in progress but face uncertainty.
What Happens During a Government Shutdown?
During a government shutdown, non-essential federal agencies cease their operations. This leads to federal employees being furloughed, potential delays in government assistance programs, and disruptions in air travel, although essential safety functions like air traffic control continue.
Impact on Military Pay
Military pay for active-duty service members and reservists could be affected by a government shutdown. While personnel will continue working, they won’t be paid until Congress appropriates funds. This differs from previous shutdowns when military salaries were protected.
Duration of a Shutdown
The duration of a government shutdown depends on when the House and Senate pass a new appropriations plan signed by the President. Past shutdowns have varied in length, from five days to 21 days.
How Does a Government Shutdown Affect You?
A government shutdown can impact Americans across the country. It may lead to delays in food safety inspections, disruptions in air travel, and potential setbacks for students. For instance, thousands of kids could lose access to Head Start care programs, and some student loan borrowers might experience disruptions.
Longest Government Shutdowns in U.S. History
The longest government shutdowns occurred in 2018-2019 and 1995-1996, primarily due to disagreements over issues like border security and taxes.
Social Security and Medicare
Social Security and Medicare benefits will continue during a government shutdown. However, certain functions within the Social Security Administration may be affected, and government food assistance benefits could experience delays.
Impact on U.S. Credit Rating
Moody’s Investors Service suggests that a government shutdown could pressure the country’s credit rating. While a short-lived shutdown might not have a substantial economic impact, it could highlight governance weaknesses compared to other countries with similar credit ratings.
All federal agencies could be impacted by a government shutdown, with non-essential functions stopping. Interdependence among agencies could also lead to disruptions in services.
Federal retirees will continue to receive payments during a government shutdown, along with Social Security and Medicare beneficiaries. Certain essential personnel, such as air traffic controllers and emergency personnel, will remain on the job.
What Will Not Be Impacted
Certain essential functions, like the President and Congress continuing to work, the Supreme Court staying open, and consular operations, will proceed. However, maintenance of certain areas and services might be delayed or canceled.
Effect on State Employees
State employees whose employers depend on federal funding for specific activities could face furloughs during a government shutdown. However, state employees funded by private employers not reliant on federal funds may remain unaffected.