What Really Happens When There’s a Government Shutdown?

(TheRedWire.com) – A government shutdown on any level is cause for concern for everyone. Though many don’t realize it, these shutdowns have the ability to impact every American. And yet, there are also some fears concerning federal shutdowns that should be put to rest.

Why a Shutdown Happens

Every year, the United States government has to create a budget for the October 1 to September 30 fiscal year. The budget is divided between mandatory and discretionary expenses. Mandatory expenses are those already in effect by law, and are somewhat fixed. Discretionary expenses are proposed one at a time and must go through an approval process, involving those divisions affected by and or proposing the spending, the president, and Congress. When those involved cannot come to an agreement, the government will shut down and reduce expenses to essential-only expenses.

Who Does and Doesn’t Get Paid

When the federal government shuts down, the health and safety of citizens is still a responsibility to be tended to. Agencies like the DEA, TSA, and FBI will continue to function as usual. However, some federal employees may find themselves working without pay, or on unpaid furlough until the government reopens.

Effectively, activities already funded or essential will continue, even if they run with a skeleton crew. Things like Social Security payments and veterans’ benefits continue because those funds have already been set aside. But, national parks and other federal facilities will be closed.

Services like the USPS and Federal Reserve also function, because they don’t rely on federal funding. The same is true of unemployment benefits, as long as the states have the funds to pay them.

For the most part, approved payments and loans will continue to be issued. It’s new applications for things like disability, unemployment, and veterans’ benefits for survivors of newly-deceased who will meet with delays.

Trickle Down Effect

A federal shutdown has a trickle-down effect that isn’t to be underestimated. Federal employees going without pay are also going without spending. Businesses applying for loans to move forward may not have access to them. And, those expecting personal or business grants may face delays or denial.

In turn, those people and businesses are unable to continue to financially support the projects or people they were. This means that just one business normally operating on business grants or loans could shut down and pass the effect onto their own employees as well as their suppliers and employees.

There isn’t much Americans can do to prevent a shutdown, other than making sure to vote for the people qualified to do the job. But it may be wise to prepare. Before a shutdown happens, the public usually knows it’s a possibility. At this time, they can prepare in advance, as much as possible.

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