The possibility of a government shutdown looms as funding expires at the end of the day on Thursday, and Congress has yet to adopt a temporary measure to keep the government open. If both the Senate and the House pass it, it may be on President Joe Biden’s desk for signature by Thursday.
Here’s everything you need to know if the government shuts down
Is everything shut down if the government shuts down? No, not all of it. In the event of a full government shutdown, federal agencies would be forced to lock their doors or cut their activities to the bare minimum. Programs and agencies that get mandated financing or are self-sufficient, such as the United States Postal Service, will remain operational. Only those organisations and agencies that rely on annual funding will be operating on a shoestring budget. Essential public safety services such as air traffic control and law enforcement will continue to operate, though not at the same levels.
Why should I worry if necessary services are maintained? During a shutdown, agencies are reduced to their bare essentials, providing only what is required by law or necessary to safeguard life and property. According to David Reich of the nonpartisan Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, agency functions that are most directly tied to the public are likely to cease or be significantly delayed, causing “tremendous upheaval and uncertainty” as they adjust to reduced staff and operations. National parks and Smithsonian museums will close, and while Social Security payments will continue to be made, benefit verification, overpayment processing, and the issuance of replacement Medicare cards will cease. Due to a reduction in the Transportation Security Administration’s manpower, there may be delays in air travel. If you have any issues about your taxes, you won’t be able to reach anyone at the Internal Revenue Support because customer service will be discontinued.
Will the CDC and FDA shut down despite the fact that we’re in the midst of a pandemic?
No, but there may be some lag time. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, and the National Institutes of Health are among the agencies that frequently witness a drop in activities. While these organisations are critical in the delivery of coronavirus vaccines and the fight against the virus, they will be operating at a greatly reduced capacity during the pandemic. According to the Department of Health and Human Services’ shutdown contingency plan, 43 percent of its employees will be furloughed, including those at the CDC, FDA, and NIH. Agencies are responsible for developing their own contingency plans in the event that funding runs out. Both yes and no. Senior agency officials were reminded last week by the White House budget office, the Office of Budget and Management, to review and update their shutdown plans. Some government agencies have released plans describing what will be kept and what will be placed on hold.
However, according to Maya MacGuineas, president of the independent think tank Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, it is never obvious which services would satisfy the absolutely necessary standard until the shutdown occurs. “But one thing is certain: a lot of people will go home and not do their jobs, which will slow down just about everything,” she warned. According to the Congressional Research Service, there are around 2.1 million civilian government employees. Federal employees are either sent home or asked to work without pay during a shutdown. The Department of Defense, for example, plans to cut its civilian personnel by 55 percent, and the Environmental Protection Agency will lay off 99 percent of its employees. A tiny percentage of government employees’ salaries are paid from sources other than appropriations. The majority of the government workers, on the other hand, would be without compensation if staffing agencies were to close.
According to Jacqueline Simon, public policy director of the American Federation of Government Employees, the largest organisation representing over 700,000 federal employees, the lack of a salary causes great hardship for many of them. “They have rent to pay,” says the narrator. They have mortgages, insurance, car payments, and child support to pay,” she explained. “There is a misconception that all government employees are well-paid professionals, which is just not true.” According to Simon, about a third of the employees represented by the union make less than $40,000 a year and may not have the financial means to continue working without compensation. Back pay being paid to federal employees who worked during the shutdown, but it won’t help them in the meantime. A government shutdown does not normally have widespread economic consequences unless it lasts weeks. The Trump administration’s partial government shutdown in 2018-2019 cost the economy $1.2 billion a week and lasted 35 days, making it the longest in US history. According to Richard Kogan of the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, the longer a shutdown lasts, the more places with large numbers of federal employees may see their local economy suffer as a result of those employees not being paid.
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