The government is closed – possibly for a “very long shutdown” according to President Donald Trump – but will it make a difference in your life?
The answer? It depends.
If you’re among the 800,000 government employees who are not deemed “essential,” you will feel the effects of the shutdown: You will either be furloughed or forced to work without pay until the standoff is resolved.
The shutdown, which began at midnight Saturday when Congress couldn’t agree on a spending plan that included $5 billion for Trump’s border wall, affects nine departments: Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, Homeland Security, Interior, State, Transportation, Treasury and Housing and Urban Development, as well as several agencies. Six departments had budgets approved earlier.
What won’t be affected by the shutdown?
Flights. Air-traffic controllers and security officers still will be on the job even if there is a shutdown.
Amtrak. The trains are run by a government-owned corporation and also will operate as usual.
The border. Customs and border agents will continue working at border crossings and ports of entry.
Social Security checks. Social Security benefits still go out.
Medicare. Like Social Security, benefits will still be provided.
Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program and Women, Infants and Children. Benefits available for at least as long as some carryover money in the states or the federal accounts are available.
Smithsonian museums and zoo. They will be open every day except Christmas.
NORAD’S Santa Tracker. The beloved Christmas Eve tracker will still follow St. Nick around the world.
What will be affected?
State and local farm service centers. They would be closed, leaving no one to answer questions or assist farmers in signing up for programs under the Farm Bill recently approved by Congress.
National parks. Some could close, others could offer limited services. During a shutdown last January, gates at national parks remained open but few staff members were on hand. Buildings were shuttered, and sometimes that included restrooms.
Small business owners. More than 30 million small businesses would no longer have access to federally assisted loans and technical assistance since Small Business Administration guarantees to back loans would freeze.
Home buyers. Americans looking to buy a new home or refinance a mortgage insured by the Federal House Administration would be put on standby.