In case you hadn’t heard, the federal government shut down at midnight on Friday, January 19th. The reason? Senators were unable to reach a budget deal by the 12 a.m. deadline. The government shutdown is happening because Republicans and Democrats both have very specific requests that split down ideological lines. Democrats want protection for undocumented immigrants who entered the U.S. as children. But Republicans won’t determine next steps for DACA until they get funding for border security. And that includes Donald Trump’s infamous wall.
This marks the first government shutdown since the government shutdown in 2013. It’s also the first government shutdown of the Trump presidency. Right now, Congress is working on short-term budget solutions. Further, at least one official has said the government could be back open come Monday. But in case Democrats and Republicans can’t figure it out, there are some important things you should know. Such as what agencies will and won’t be affected by the government shutdown.
First up, since it’s tax season: Yes, you still have to file your taxes. A government shutdown doesn’t mean you get a freebie this year (sadly). But many IRS employees will take a leave of absence. And depending on how long the government shutdown lasts, refunds could go out later than expected. During the government shutdown in 2013, nearly $4 billion in U.S. tax refunds were delayed.
The main people affected by this government shutdown are “non-essential” government employees.
Back in 2013, more than 850,000 government workers were furloughed. That means activities come to a full halt at agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration. National parks close, and research at places like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention slow down or stop altogether. The Smithsonian museums will close as well.
During this time, federal workers won’t be paid. But in the past, they’ve received retroactive payment from the government.
All of that is bad, but it doesn’t mean it’s just a free-for-all in the streets.
The military is considered essential, so active-duty military still goes to work. (Hear that, President Trump?)
Law enforcement still works. Food stamps and Social Security checks still go out. And the U.S. Postal Service isn’t affected at all since it’s not funded with taxpayer money.
Airplanes will still fly, and the TSA will still give you uncomfortable pat-downs. Astronauts will still be in space (though with reduced NASA employees on the ground). And yes, the president and Congress will still receive their salaries. (We know you were worried about that one.)
Government shutdowns also tend to result in GDP losses. In 2013, we lost $2 billion in productivity during the shutdown. And it lasted for just 16 days. Here’s hoping the U.S. government sorts all of this out before Monday morning.