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"We're totally prepared for a very long shutdown," President Donald Trump told reporters today.
The looming shutdown in the federal government is less than 12 hours away, but not all federal agencies will close this holiday season.
During the last major federal government shutdown in 2013, healthcare was a focal point and the United States underwent its third longest shutdown of 16 days. Five years later, border security remains in a gridlock as members of Congress debate President Donald Trump's demand for $5 billion in border wall funding.
On Wednesday night, the Senate unanimously passed a continuing resolution that would maintain current spending levels until early February, but no funding was allocated for a border wall. After Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) met with President Trump, he announced the president would not sign a spending bill without border wall funding, causing Congress to scramble to pass something that is either something President Trump will sign or is veto-proof.
Government shutdowns affect hundreds of thousands of Americans and the ability for the District of Columbia to operate at full capacity. Most of the cabinet-level agencies will shut down, partially or in full, but there is some good news for those traveling this holiday season.
First, the bad news. Here is what will be affected if a government shutdown occurs.
What is affected if the federal government shuts down?
- Department of the Treasury
- Department of Agriculture
- Department of Homeland Security
- Department of the Interior
- Department of State
- Department of Housing and Urban Development
- Department of Transportation
- Department of Commerce
- Department of Justice
Since immigration and border wall funding remains a focal point in the looming government shutdown, it should be noted that the Department of Homeland Security would lose more than 50,000 Customs and Border Protection agents to furlough, according to a report released by the Democratic members of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
For many, this upcoming Monday means celebrating Christmas Eve. For federal employees, many will now worry whether they will be coming back to work later in the week.
Although these departments will be considered closed, offices around Washington will have so-called skeleton crews, where less staff comes in to work without pay. More than 800,000 federal employees will either be affected by this or a furlough (being sent home without pay until the government re-opens).
What remains relatively normal during a government shutdown?
Washington DC's local government, for example, will feel little to no affects if there is a federal government shutdown. After the 2013 shutdown, Congress gave more autonomy to the District Council in order to maintain its ability to serve local residents.
For those traveling during the holiday season, the Federal Aviation Administration and Transportation Security Administration will remain open despite losing some staff if there is a shutdown. TSA officers are considered "essential workers," so travelers should see little to no major delays.
Postal mail and Social Security or Medicare payments will not be affected if there is a government shutdown for multiple reasons. First, the United States Postal Service is not funded by taxpayer dollars, so it can financially operate independently from the government.
Furthermore, Social Security and Medicare are part of Congress' "mandatory spending," which means the budget for these programs are already allocated. Additionally, these programs receive state funding and should be delivered in a relatively timely manner if the USPS runs as expected.
Is the federal government shutdown likely to happen?
This is a tougher question to answer. It is more likely that the government will shut down because Democrats in Congress vehemently oppose spending $5 billion on a border wall.
Senators are currently scrambling to find a consensus before the clock strikes midnight, and the first set of votes on a continuing resolution with funding for the wall included are set to begin soon.