After experiencing our recent, brief government shutdown, you may have been wondering what longer shutdowns mean for you. Which government offices and agencies stay up and running? Which of them close until the shutdown ends?
Here’s what you need to know about government shutdowns.
What are government shutdowns?
A government shutdown is an official closure of all nonessential government offices due to a lack of approval of the federal budget for the approaching fiscal year. Approval occurs only if Congress passes every one of the spending bills related to the federal budget. If there is no agreement, a shutdown continues, forcing many federally operated programs to halt all their work and services. Some programs will stay open, operating on a contingency plan. Others will subsist on cash reserves for as long as they last.
In short, a shutdown exists until Congress reaches a compromise and passes a spending bill.
What happens to government employees?
A government shutdown doesn’t mean an extra week’s vacation for federal workers. Quite the contrary, thousands of federal employees go on furlough or unpaid leave. In previous shutdowns, furloughed government workers received retroactive pay once Congress reached an agreement and the shutdown ended.
There are many essential government programs that keep operating as usual. However, most of these workers are not paid for their work.
Shutdowns affect which government agencies?
As mentioned, all essential government agencies are typically running as usual. Several of them are understaffed until a shutdown ends, and many employees are not paid for work done during the shutdown. In addition, here’s how a shutdown affects various federal agencies and divisions:
The military is an essential agency and executes all overseas operations as usual. Military personnel work as usual and receive full pay unless the shutdown stretches on.
It’s important to note, though, that many civilian Department of Defense employees do not work during shutdowns, including military academy instructors and private maintenance contractors.
2.) Veterans’ Affairs
3.) Social Security
4.) Postal Service
5.) Justice Department
6.) Housing and Urban Development
8.) Passports and visas
9.) White House
10.) TSA and air traffic control
11.) Homeland Security
12.) National parks and landmarks
Government shutdowns have always had a devastating effect on the economy. With loan processing delayed and halted, attractions shuttered and thousands of businesses that rely on the patronization of furloughed workers suffering a loss, the economy can take a hard hit. In the past, the government lost an estimated $20 billion in revenue during a shutdown. Had the 2018 shutdown extended further, with many parks and recreational centers operating as usual, the losses may not have been as severe.
Congress works hard when trying to reach budget plans to satisfy all parties. Hopefully, if shutdowns do occur, an agreement occurs quickly and the shutdown ends.
Your Turn: Did the most recent government shutdown affect you or someone you know?
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