Impending Government Shutdown: What to Expect

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WASHINGTON — Since early 2017, there’s been looming talk of a government shutdown. Now, with lawmakers still struggling to produce a government spending bill which both parties can agree upon, the possibility seems all too real.

The next big deadline to pay attention to is January 19th, by which either a short-term or a long-term bill must be passed. If lawmakers fail to deliver by this date, government funding could come to a screeching halt.

While the impending shutdown would affect millions of Americans, it doesn’t mean that all government activity will stop. Government services deemed essential are protected during a shutdown, meaning the employees who perform these services will continue to work. These include but are not limited to national security, public health and safety services, and air traffic control.

So, no, the country is not necessarily due to go up in flames because of back and forth in the Capitol. Our government survived a 2013 shutdown, and likely will survive this one if it comes to pass. However, a shutdown does come with real consequences that could impact everyday Americans. Here’s a few groups of people on the long list of those who may feel the effects.

Government Employees

Whether or not a government employee’s work is deemed essential, no funding means no payout. While some workers will continue to toil without pay, hundreds of thousands of others will take a forced, unpaid vacation until the shutdown is over.

The last shutdown lasted for approximately two weeks and over 800,000 government employees were without work for the duration. This ended up costing the U.S. economy about 2 billion dollars.

government employee furlough government shutdown 2018
Percentage of gov’t personnel who will be placed on furlough, by department.

These numbers don’t even include Active Duty military personnel, who will also lose their pay during the shutdown. Service members will be required to work without pay, as national defense doesn’t get the luxury of a vacation. The Defense Finance and Accounting Service, the Department of Defense agency responsible for military pay, states, “in case of a potential government shutdown, the Department of Defense has no legal authority to pay any personnel—military or civilian—for the days during which the government is shut down.”


Whether traveling domestically or abroad, Americans are more likely to face inconveniences at the airport. TSA, custom agents, and security will have their hands full, resulting in longer lines. This also means that passport applications may take longer to process, as there won’t be as many people working to pump out passports.

In addition, popular domestic venues run by government agents such as museums and national parks will close. This will result in visitors being turned away from hundreds of popular establishments and, respectively, a loss of tourism revenue.

Folks Waiting on a Tax Refund

It may be tax season, but for many, seeing that refund in their bank account may take longer than expected. This is because as a result of the shutdown, most IRS staff will be placed on Furlough. This is likely to result in a back-logging of claims, especially during this particularly busy time of year.

Honorable mention includes senior citizens, students, welfare participants, and stockholders. Here’s hoping for a short hiatus, or better yet, no hiatus at all. Stay tuned.


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