Again, I am doing my best to keep politics out of my answers.
What causes a shutdown? Only Congress can spend money. If Congress doesn’t pass a budget, there is no money to keep things running.
What is a continuing resolution? In a happy world congress would pass a budget for the coming year. Congress has been unable to do that in recent years, and passes bits and pieces of budgets. That is called a continuing resolution.
Why can’t Congress agree? Republicans won’t pass a budget unless it ends/alters/defunds the Affordable Care Act. Democrats insist the act be fully funded.
Why is this happening now? The latest continuing resolution ends at midnight tonight.
Could government workers ignore a shutdown and go in anyway? Nope. Congress passed a law making that a felony.
When does a shutdown begin? Technically at midnight, but most workers will still go in tomorrow. After about four hours they will be laid off and sent home.
How many times has the government shutdown before? Since 1977 there have been 17. Most last a day or two, sometimes three. The longest was 21 days in December 1995. Bill Clinton had so much time on his hands.. well that’s another story.
THE DEBT LIMIT:
What is the difference between a shutdown and a debt crisis. In a shutdown the government has no authority to spend money on things that aren’t essential. In a debt crisis, the government is required to spend the money, but has no legal authority to borrow the money to spend it.
Are the two related? No, it’s just a coincidence we are facing a shutdown a shutdown today and ‘default” in 17 days.
When do we run out of permission to borrow money to pay our bills? Roughly October 17th.
Has the US ever defaulted before? Nope.
If the nation hits the debt limit will the rest of government shutdown? Good Question. No one really knows. The Treasury Department does have the option of paying some bills as daily taxes come in.
Will I get mail? Yes.
Can I get a passport? Maybe, but get paperwork today and good luck.
Can I visit national parks? Nope.
What about campers already in the parks? They two days to get out.
Will Washington Museums stay open? Nope. This will ruin field trips.
How about the Kennedy center for Performing Arts? They expect to stay open, funded by ticket sales.
Will Washington DC close? Great Question. DC runs on a stipend from congress. This last time this happened, trash went uncollected, and many offices at City Hall closed. The mayor says all employees are essential. But his own attorney general says that plan is illegal.
Will the Patent and Trademark office be open. Yes.
Will Food Service Safety Inspections continue. Mostly.
Will the government continue to release economic data? Probably.
Will the government continue to enforce wage and hour laws? The law will be in effect, but there is no one who would enforce it.
Will disaster response be affected? No.. But all non disaster grants like state and local preparedness programs would be post-poned.
THE BLAME GAME:
Will a government shutdown affect the Affordable Care Act? No. State insurance exchanges still open tomorrow.
Will Seniors gets Social Security Checks? Yes.
Can I apply for Social Security benefits, appeal a denial of benefits, change my address or sign up for direct deposit? Yes.
Can I get a replacement SS card, benefit verification, or earnings record correction? No
Will the government keep sending unemployment checks? Yes.
Will I be able to get food stamps? Yes.
What about WIC. It will probably close unless states pour in money. .
What about school lunch programs? Most lunches will be served this month.
Will Veterans get compensation for service or combat related injuries? If the shutdown continues into late October, the VA will run out of money.
Can I still get a federally backed loan? Probably not.
Does that mean I can not get an FHA mortgage. No, but good luck.
Can I get a VA backed loan. No.
Will veterans who die still get a burial benefit? Yes.
Will the IRS keep collecting taxes? Of course.
Will the refund I was expecting be delayed? Of Course.
What about taxpayer assistance. It will all close.
What about my IRS Audit? Good news, you catch a break until the shutdown is over.
How many federal employees will be laid off? The government won’t say.
What’s a good guess? As many as a million people.
Why do some federal employees keep working? There are provisions that keep employees considered essential to the nations well being. We have to have air traffic controllers. We need federal prison guards. You get the idea.
Will the President be paid during a shutdown? Yes.
Will members of the House and Senate be paid during a shutdown? Yes.
Will members of the military be laid off? No.
Will members of the military get paid? Tomorrow is payday. Those checks will be handed out. The government will not pay them on the 15th.
Will civilian defense workers be laid off? Yes, about a half million.
Can federal workers volunteer their services? No.
Will federal workers get repaid even if they didn’t work? Maybe. They may be out of luck too.
THE LONG TERM:
How much money will a shutdown save taxpayers? Most likely, it will not. The 21 day shutdown in 1995 actually cost taxpayers about 1.4 billion.
What effect will a shutdown have on the economy? Economists say even a shutdown of a few says shaves decimal points off economic growth. A sustained shutdown of three or four weeks will do significant damage.
What about the stock market? During the 95 shutdown stocks lost about 3.7 per cent of value. Stocks rebounded quickly after the shutdown ended and actually rose 10.5% the next month.