As congressional Democrats and Republicans are scrambling to pass a spending bill that would prevent a government shutdown on Dec. 8, funding for the wide range of federal activities is about to run dry.
If the deal fails to make it past Congress, Washington will face an abrupt and painful halt to prevent a spending gap.
The government is running out of cash because since the beginning of the new fiscal year (October 1), it has been running on temporary funds which will run out on Dec. 8. Congressional leaders are now desperately seeking an extension to the temporary funding before the December deadline.
What Does a Shutdown Really Mean?
During a government shutdown, all non-essential federal activities are put on hold, with most federal workers being forced into a leave of absence. Federal agencies usually have a backup plan that pinpoints which activities will be shut down and which will continue to operate.
During a shutdown, non-essential government functions are suspended:
- So, expect national parks and museums to be closed.
- If the shutdown lasts for more than a few days, activities that imply visa and passport applications are also affected.
- The National Institutes for Health’s work will be also put on halt and so will be the maintenance of government websites.
The essential federal activities, though, will not be affected. Law enforcement, military services, traffic control, and medical care for veterans will continue to operate. The Postal Service will also continue to do business as usual since it runs on its own funding.
People will continue to get their food stamps and social security checks, and the court system will remain functional. The U.S. President is also required to continue his work.
During the last government shutdown, in 2013, 40 percent of the federal workforce was furloughed.
Image Source: Wikimedia