In recent years, Congress has regularly passed a Continuing Resolution (CR) to extend the most recently passed budget. These resolutions are usually free of controversial measures, allowing the government to function normally while Congress works towards a full budget for the upcoming year. However, House Republicans tied the defunding of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to the most recent CR that expired on October 1, 2013. Their actions caused the government shutdown. Every non-essential function of the federal government will cease until a new CR is enacted.
In order to end this partisan gridlock, Republicans must work with Democrats and not bow to the demands of fringe members of the Tea Party. Instead of threatening our economic recovery, and the progress that we have made over recent years, we should be working together to advocate for the best interests of the American People.
As a result of the government shutdown, the following services WILL be affected:
The military's 1.4 million active-duty personnel will stay on duty, but barring the passage of any specific measures by Congress, their paychecks will be delayed. About half of the Defense Department's civilian employees will be furloughed.
National Parks and Museums:
All 401 National Park units and federal wildlife refuges will be closed for the duration of the shutdown. It is estimated that local gateway communities will lose at least $30 million per day in revenue. During the last shut-down, more than 9 million visitors were turned away from parks, museums and monuments run by the National Park Service.
NASA will furlough almost all of its employees, but it will continue to keep workers at Mission Control in Houston and elsewhere to support the International Space Station. The National Weather Service will keep forecasting weather and issuing warnings and the National Hurricane Center will continue to track storms.
Wages and Hours:
The following services WILL NOT be affected:
The majority of the Department of Homeland Security's employees are expected to stay on the job, including uniformed agents and officers at the country's borders and ports of entry, members of the Coast Guard, Transportation Security Administration officers, Secret Service personnel and other law enforcement agents and officers. US Citizenship and Immigration Services employees will continue to process green card applications.
Most services offered through the Department of Veterans Affairs will continue. Veterans will still be able to visit hospitals for inpatient care, mental health counseling, or get prescriptions filled at VA health clinics. Operators will still staff the crisis hotline and claims workers would still process payments to cover disability and pension benefits. Those veterans appealing the denial of disability benefits to the Board of Veterans Appeals will have to wait longer for a decision because the board would not issue any decisions during a shutdown.
Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security:
Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other mandatory programs will not be significantly impacted. However, you will not be able to get a new or replacement Social Security card.
Federal air traffic controllers will remain on the job and airport will continue to operate security checkpoints; delays are possible. Federal inspectors will continue enforcing safety rules.
The State Department will continue processing foreign applications for visas and US applications for passports, since fees are collected to finance those services. Delays are expected however. Embassies and consulates overseas will continue to provide services to American citizens.
Federal courts will continue to operate normally for about 10 business days after the start of a shutdown. If the shutdown continues after such a point, the judiciary would have to begin furloughs of employees whose work is not considered essential. Cases would continue to be heard, however, in such a case.
The US Supreme Court is scheduled to begin its new term on October 7. In previous government shutdowns, it continued to operate as normal.