Government shutdown: How could you be affected?

You have heard all the lies… now the truth….

A look at which services will and will not be affected after Congress failed to reach an agreement averting a government shutdown.

  1. Guide to the shutdown

    Government shutdown: Mail

    Mail carrier Mike Gillis delivers mail Dec. 6, 2011 in Montpelier, Vt.

    A government shutdown would have far-reaching consequences for some but minimal impact on others.

    Mail would be delivered. Social Security and Medicare benefits would continue to flow. Deliveries would continue as usual because the U.S. Postal Service receives no tax dollars for day-to-day operations; it relies on income from stamps and other postal fees to keep running.

    But vacationers would be turned away from national parks and Smithsonian museums. Low-to-moderate-income borrowers and first-time homebuyers seeking government-backed mortgages could face delays.

  2. Benefit payments

    Government shutdown: benefit payments

    Trays of printed Social Security checks wait to be mailed from the U.S. Treasury’s Financial Management services facility in Philadelphia.

    Social Security and Medicare benefits would keep coming, but there could be delays in processing new disability applications. Unemployment benefits would still go out.

  3. Air travel

    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 U.S. applications for passports, since fees are collected to finance those services. Embassies and consulates overseas would continue to provide services to American citizens.


  4. Health care

    Government shutdown: Health

    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, from flu to that mysterious MERS virus from the Middle East.


  5. National parks

    All national parks 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.

    In this photo: The Statue of Liberty in New York harbor

  6. Science

    NASA will continue to keep workers at Mission Control in Houston and elsewhere to support the International Space station, where two Americans and four others are deployed. But that means “fewer than 600 of NASA’s 18,000 or so employees would likely keep working through a shutdown, with the aim of ensuring the safety of human life and the protection of property, according to a plan the space agency submitted … to the Office of Management and Budget,” according to

    The National Weather Service would keep forecasting weather and issuing warnings and the National Hurricane Center would continue to track storms. The scientific work of the U.S. Geological Survey would be halted.

  7. Veteran services

    Most services offered through the Department of Veterans Affairs will continue because lawmakers approve money one year in advance for the VA’s health programs. Veterans would still be able to visit hospitals for inpatient care, get mental health counseling at vet centers or get prescriptions filled at VA health clinics. Operators would still staff the crisis hotline and claims workers would still process payments to cover disability and pension benefits. But veterans appealing denial of disability benefits to the Board of Veterans Appeals would have to wait longer for a decision because the board would not issue any decisions during a shutdown.


  8. U.S. military

    The military’s 1.4 million active-duty personnel would stay on duty. About half of the Defense Department’s civilian employees would be furloughed. On Sept. 30, President Obama signed legislation ensuring that members of the military would get paid during a government shutdown.


  9. Federal courts

    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.

  10. Prisons

    All 116 federal prisons would remain open, and criminal litigation would proceed.

%d bloggers like this: