Political clock ticks toward government shutdown. Here’s what would happen
Unless Congress agrees on a budget bill before next Tuesday, many federal government agencies and programs could cease operating or be curtailed. Here's a look at what could happen if the crisis is not averted.
Picture this: In the cold dawn light of next Tuesday, it turns out that Congress has been unable to avert a government shutdown. The fight over funding for the Affordable Care Act – “Obamacare” – has not been resolved, and that’s thrown a wrench into the gears of federal programs.Skip to next paragraph
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Some will keep operating, at least for a while, and a few of the most essential programs won’t shut down at all. But many services that Americans have gotten used to will cease for now, and hundreds of thousands of federal employees will be furloughed.
As Sen. John McCain has warned, “We’ve seen this movie before.” That was in 1995/96, when Republicans took most of the blame.
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It may well be that a shutdown still could be averted.
But if not, according to an Associated Press tally of federal agencies and programs, here’s the likely scenario as Congress plays out its Perils-of-Pauline political drama toward a possible government shutdown Monday at midnight:
Federal air traffic controllers would remain on the job and airport screeners would keep funneling passengers through security checkpoints. Federal inspectors would continue enforcing safety rules.
The State Department would continue processing foreign applications for visas and US applications for passports, since fees are collected to finance those services. Embassies and consulates overseas would continue to provide services to American citizens.
Social Security and Medicare benefits would keep coming, but there could be delays in processing new disability applications. Unemployment benefits would still go out.
Federal courts would continue operating normally for about 10 business days after the start of a shutdown, roughly until the middle of October. If the shutdown continues, the judiciary would have to begin furloughs of employees whose work is not considered essential. But cases would continue to be heard.
Deliveries would continue as usual since the US Postal Service receives no tax dollars for day-to-day operations. It relies on income from stamps and other postal fees to keep running.
All national parks from Acadia National Park in Maine to Yosemite National Park in California would be closed, as would the Smithsonian museums, including the National Zoo in Washington. Visitors using overnight campgrounds or other park facilities would be given 48 hours to make alternate arrangements and leave the park. Among the visitor centers that would be closed: the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island in New York, Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Alcatraz Island near San Francisco, and the Washington Monument.
New patients would not be accepted into clinical research at the National Institutes of Health, but current patients would continue to receive care. Medical research at the NIH would be disrupted and some studies would be delayed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would be severely limited in spotting or investigating disease outbreaks.
The Food and Drug Administration would handle high-risk recalls but suspend most routine safety inspections. Federal meat inspections would be expected to proceed as usual.
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