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HomeLatest NewsThe Impact of a Government Shutdown: NPR Examines Who is Affected

The Impact of a Government Shutdown: NPR Examines Who is Affected

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As the deadline for government funding looms closer, lawmakers are still far from reaching a deal, raising the likelihood of a government shutdown. If a deal isn’t reached by the end of the day on September 30, federal agencies will be forced to furlough hundreds of thousands of workers until funding is restored. This would lead to a pause in federal services, programming, and pay, affecting various aspects of daily life. For instance, Smithsonian facilities, National Park Services’ “Fat Bear Week,” and celebrations at the National Zoo’s giant pandas could all be impacted. However, some services will still be available, such as Social Security checks, “vital FDA activities related to imminent threats to the safety of human life,” and Veterans Affairs facilities.

In addition to the halt in federal services, a potential government shutdown would also have significant consequences for federal employees. It is estimated that around 2.1 million civilian federal workers could see delayed paychecks, while roughly 4 million federal contract workers may not receive any pay. This could lead to increased demand for food assistance, with organizations like the Capital Area Food Bank in Washington preparing for as many as 100,000 federal workers who may require support. Furthermore, nutrition and food assistance programs, such as SNAP and WIC, could be paused, affecting the millions of pregnant women, infants, and children who rely on these programs. However, households receiving SNAP benefits will continue to receive October nutrition assistance as usual, though the impact on November benefits remains uncertain.

The potential shutdown could also impact social services, education, and national parks. Programs like Head Start, which supports early childhood education, and Meals on Wheels, which provides food to elderly individuals, could experience interruptions. National parks may have to shut down visitor centers, campgrounds, research facilities, and museums, which could affect various events and attractions. Additionally, depending on the duration of the shutdown, interruptions during the Indigenous People’s/Columbus Day weekend may occur. While healthcare is likely to continue uninterrupted, research activities may be paused, and community health centers that rely on federal grants could face funding interruptions.

Lastly, the military would also be impacted by a shutdown, with active-duty servicemembers working without pay and some Pentagon civilians required to work without pay. Military Commissaries, which act as neighborhood grocery stores, would remain open for approximately 60 days after the funds run out, but afterward, only overseas and remote locations would stay open. Furthermore, federal law enforcement efforts, including those related to human trafficking investigations, counterterrorism operations, and drug violations, could slow down due to a lack of resources.
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