What is Affected During the Government Shutdown?


The last government shutdown came in the 1990s, so here is a quick refresher course. For more detailed information, please visit http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/09/30/absolutely-everything-you-need-to-know-about-how-the-government-shutdown-will-work/.

We will continue to update this page. If you see anything missing, or you have a question, please tell us in the comments!
  • What happened? Because the House and Senate could not come to an agreement about spending for the new fiscal year (which begins today) or an agreement on a continuing resolution to keep the government funded for a few more weeks of negotiation, the government has shutdown all nonessential services. Until a new agreement is reached, many federal offices will be closed, and nonessential workers (about 800,000) will be asked to remain at home without pay. Offices that operate with independent funding, such as the US Postal Service and the Federal Reserve, will remain open.
  • Who are essential workers? Anyone who performs "essential activities to the extent that they protect life and property" would be considered an essential worker. Air traffic control, federal prisons, border patrol - they all stay open. AmeriCorps VISTA members continue their year of service. Federal legislators stay on the job, but some of their staff will be considered nonessential. 
  • Who still gets paid? Most essential and nonessential government workers will not receive their paychecks during the shutdown. Once the shutdown is over, Congress can choose to retroactively pay these employees. Some, such as AmeriCorps VISTA members, will automatically be paid once the shutdown is over. Active-service members of the military, Congress, and the President continue to get paid during a shutdown. 
  • How does this affect the economy? The economic impact depends on how long the shutdown lasts. Economists are predicting that a short shutdown will cut .3-.4 percentage points from economic growth. mostly due to lost pay to furloughed workers. Delays in payments to federal contractors will also affect the economy, along with declines in tourism due to the closure of federal attractions.
  • What stays open? Air traffic control, the US Postal Service, the Federal Reserve, FBI, DEA, passport agencies (as long as they are not in federal government buildings)
  • What closes? National parks, national zoos, national museums, much of the IRS
  • What programs are affected? (for a full list, please visit http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/09/30/absolutely-everything-you-need-to-know-about-how-the-government-shutdown-will-work/)
    • Civil cases: Under a shutdown, the Justice Department suspends many civil cases.
    • Gun permits: Gun permits may not be processed during the shutdown.
    • Housing: There will be no money for additional housing vouchers. Public housing authorities will stop receiving payments, but can probably continue to provide rental assistance throughout October.
    • Immigration Status Verification: The E-Verify program will not be active, so employers cannot use it to determine the immigration status of prospective employees.
    • Loan authority: Federal loans, such as small business loans and mortgages, may not be available during the shutdown.
    • Social Security: Social Security checks will still be mailed, but employees will not be able to replace benefits cards or schedule disability case hearings. Also, there will be no processing of new applications for Social Security or Medicare.
    • Veterans: Similarly, while some benefits will be paid and Veterans hospitals will stay open, the VA will not be able to process education and rehabilitation benefits or hold benefits appeal hearings.
  • What happens to my....
    • Social Security? Social Security checks will continue to be mailed, as will some types of veterans benefits.
    • Food stamps/SNAP? Food stamps were funded under a previous bill so they will not be affected.
    • Unemployment benefits? Unemployment benefits were also funded under a previous bill so they will not be affected.


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