Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images News/Getty Images

What Happens In A Government Shutdown? Here’s What You Need To Know

By
Share
Ad failed to load

The holidays are officially upon us, and as December looms, there are many things we can look forward to. Egg nog, for one. Hot chocolate, time with loved ones, brisk late-night walks in the snow. And, maybe, a government shutdown in December. What? How? Why? What about the children? you may be thinking. Well here's what a government shutdown could mean for you.

The long and short of it is this: Congress has until Dec. 8 to pass a spending bill, according to The Washington Post, or else the government will run out of money and shut down. The Senate spending bill requires 60 votes to pass, which means Republicans will need 8 Democrats to vote along with them on spending, but the next few weeks will require serious bipartisan compromise to avoid a shutdown. To boot, Republicans have signaled that they want to pass tax reform before addressing anything else, and since tax reform will likely be a difficult sell, it might mean that the spending bill doesn't meet its deadline.

In other words, a shutdown isn't out of the realm of possibility. In fact, according to what Steve Bell, a former GOP budget aide with the Bipartisan Policy Institute told The Washington Post, “the odds are better than 50 percent,” of a shutdown. Yeesh.

Ad failed to load

So, with a shutdown looming, what does that mean for people like you and me?

Well, it depends. According to ABC News, the last time the government shut down, for 16 days in Oct. 2013, approximately 800,000 federal employees were furloughed without pay. Nonessential services, including national parks, Smithsonian museums, and NASA, were shut down. Most disturbingly, Veterans Affairs benefits were disrupted, and millions of veterans and their families almost lost crucial financial assistance.

Ad failed to load

And while every shutdown is different, USA Today predicted some similar outcomes the last time a shutdown loomed — in April — which we can use to determine what could happen in mere weeks.

The nitty-gritty: all non-essential employees and services will likely be furloughed and shut down, which means people can say goodbye to the national parks and taxpayer-funded museums (at least for the time being). Citizens should also expect administrative slow-downs across federal agencies.

But many services will remain running — for example, the U.S. Postal Service, which does not receive taxpayer funding, will continue to operate.

Ad failed to load

Those who receive Social Security benefits or are part of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) food stamp program will continue to receive their benefits. Both programs are mandatory and will continue to operate outside of a shutdown.

As for unemployment benefits, people were able to collect during the 2013 shutdown, so it's likely that you'll be able to collect if a shutdown occurs again. In fact, federal employees who were furloughed in 2013 qualified for unemployment benefits, allowing them some leeway while their jobs were suspended.

Some of the likely outcomes are pretty grim, though.

While travel won't stop, it could be disrupted by furloughs. Nonessential employees being sent home could spell longer waits at the airport, and right around the holidays, no less. And both USA Today and the New Statesman note that the State Department's passport department is partially funded by fees, so it's not completely dependent on federal money  — but if you need a passport, act soon. We mean it: during a 1996 government shutdown, the State Department stopped processing applications, affecting hundreds of thousands of applicants.

Ad failed to load

Most worrying: federal loan programs could be in danger. The 2013 shutdown caused mortgage roadblocks. Grants and research funding could stall, per The Daily Californian. Federally funded student loans like the Pell Grant would, by and large, be safe at first, though the longer the shutdown lasts, the bigger the chance that even student loan disbursement could be interrupted.

And, perhaps, worst of all? You'll still owe your taxes by April 15, but the IRS could delay your tax return.

Why is this happening?

As recently as April, President Donald Trump threatened a government shutdown if he didn't get the money for his border wall between the U.S. and Mexico. He backed off — but The Washington Post says that Trump's desire for wall funding in the impending spending bill could be one of five scenarios that could lead to a shutdown.

Ad failed to load

While a spending bill needs to be passed by Dec. 8 to avoid a shutdown, Republicans have signaled that they are going to try to pass President Donald Trump's sweeping tax reform bill beforehand. Which means that they need the Senate to pass the controversial plan which is already in danger of failing, and then combine the House and Senate versions of the bill. After that, Congress needs to come up with a spending bill that meets Democrats' (and some Republicans') demands in relation to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, an Obama-era program which allowed undocumented individuals who came to the U.S. while children to work, study, and live in the United States. When Trump sunsetted DACA this summer, Democrats said they would only pass a spending bill if it included legislation that makes DACA a law.

As recently as Sept. 14, it seemed that Trump and Democrats were close to a compromise on DACA, but today, Nov. 28, Trump tweeted that he wouldn't compromise with Democrats: "I don't see a deal!"

Ad failed to load

And with the additional pressure of a looming vote on tax reform — which would likely raise taxes on low- and middle-income Americans, might repeal the ACA's individual mandate and kick millions of people off of health care, and could even add to the national deficit to the tune of $1.7 trillion — things are looking grim for the possibility of passing a spending bill on time.

The last time the government shut down in 2013, it cost $24 billion in lost revenue for the economy. Congress has ten days to decide whether or not they'll allow this to happen again. In the meantime, don't hold your breath.

Ad failed to load

Must Reads

Your Weekly Horoscope Is Here & Luckily, It's All Good Things

Pat yourself on the back because you survived not only one but two major eclipses. The last few weeks have been one obstacle after another but you made it. You dealt with the pain, held it together, and prevailed. Now, your February 19, 2018 weekly h…
By Roya Backlund

6 Subtle Red Flags That Could Mean You’re Sleeping Way Too Much

Have you ever woken up after an unusually long night of sleep and felt, well, kind of awful? Whether you roll out of bed feeling super dehydrated, nursing a throbbing a headache, or you simply feel stiff as a board, there are reasons why your body mi…
By Annakeara Stinson

These 6 Workouts Can Be Done Right On Your Couch, & Yes, They Do Count As Exercise

Ever have that feeling when you're watching the Olympics like you should be working out, or at least stretching, but in reality you're just laying around eating chips? Yeah, me neither. But if you do ever feel that pull to work out when you're just l…
By Annakeara Stinson

10 Things You Should Say To Your Partner Every Day To Keep The Love Alive

When it coms to love, falling into it is a lot easier than maintaining it. There’s a reason, after all, that it's called "falling" in love, because it's mostly out of your control — the heart just takes over. Because those emotions come so easily and…
By Rachel Shatto

Science Says These 8 Foods Can Help You Live Longer, So Eat Up

If you're looking to live forever, or at least for an appropriately long amount of time, then the best way to get started on your journey toward immortality is to think about what you're putting into your body for fuel. Think of your diet as the batt…
By Caroline Burke

I Live In London & When Guys Find Out I'm American, They Only See Me As A Fling

I first entered the world of dating apps during a semester abroad in London, and I had zero idea what I was getting myself into. I was 21, had only ever dated boys I'd met through work, school, or mutual friends, and my appreciation for romantic come…
By Genevieve Wheeler

Here's Exactly How You'll Fall In Love, Based On Your Astrological Sign

One of my favorite things about learning about my zodiac sign and others' is learning patterns about my behavior that I can acknowledge and use to my advantage. As a Scorpio sun sign, I know I'm typically described as mysterious, drawn to loyal peopl…
By Elana Rubin

These 8 Red Flags Might Mean You're Pushing Yourself Too Hard In Your Workouts

If you live by the motto "no pain, no gain," or you frequently exclaim that your HIIT circuits "hurt so good," you're probably the type of person who challenges yourself to the max during your workouts. And while this isn't necessarily a bad thing, i…
By Georgina Berbari

I Tried Vegan "Spacepaste" & It Looks Like Straight-Up LED Lights On Your Face

As you might have noticed, 2018 is the year for glitter. So many brands have been releasing shining, shimmering formulations like they're going out of style. We're not even halfway through February, and Lemonhead LA has already launched the best glit…
By Kim Carpluk

These "Awkward" Proposal Stories Show There's No One Perfect Way To Get Engaged

There are a few adjectives people use to describe proposal stories that tend to be a bit more common than the rest. You know what I mean. How many times have you heard someone describe their marriage proposal as "magical" or "romantic" or — my person…
By Candice Jalili

This $20 Toy Simulates Pimple Popping, So You Can Save Your Face (But Still Lose Your Dignity)

As a self-proclaimed popaholic, I am not ashamed to admit that I love watching pimple popping and blackhead extraction videos. Call me gross, but I find it immensely therapeutic and satisfying. To all of my fellow weirdos, we’ve been blessed with a n…
By Ariana Marsh

Everyone Is So Thirsty Over This “Photo” Of Obama With Facial Hair

It's been a hot minute since President Barack Obama left the Oval office (though it feels like ages), and a lot of us miss him dearly. After leaving the White House, the 44th president remained out of the public eye for a little while, decompressing …
By Daniella Bondar

Meghan Markle Uses This $13 Natural Wonder To Grow Her Eyebrows Back & You Can Too

Meghan Markle is the world's new go-to celebrity for all things fashion and beauty — she's marrying a prince after all, so she must have some tricks up her sleeve. Meghan Markle's beauty routine is just as intricate as mine, because that's how real s…
By Alison Turka

7 Foolproof Things To Do Every Day If You're Tired Of Being Lazy AF

Being lazy can be oh-so-lovely. Until you start letting life pass you by, and not living to your full potential, then suddenly, it's not so good anymore. Don't get me wrong, I love my weekends when I can stay snuggled up in bed just a bit longer. Hit…
By Marisa Casciano

This Is How Long Most People Wait To Say "I Love You," Science Says

If I had to choose one word to describe saying "I love you" to your partner for the first time, I'd have to go with... hmm, exciting? Nope. Thrilling? Hardly. Terrifying? YES. Exactly. Saying "I love you" for the first time is terrifying. What makes …
By Candice Jalili

6 Reasons To Travel Abroad With Your Boyfriend Or Girlfriend In Your 20s

Traveling can be many things: hectic, expensive, and definitely stressful. But with the right people or person beside you, all those troubles kind of just melt away. That's why there are some solid reasons to travel abroad with your boyfriend or girl…
By Alani Vargas

7 Subtle Red Flags About The Way The Person You're Dating Treats Other People

You've done it. Against all odds, you've found the seemingly perfect person. All of your dates have been amazing, filled with endless hours of deep conversation and sweet affections. And how is it possible that you have, like, everything in common? T…
By Lily Rouff

Opal Hair Is The Latest Color Trend & It's So 'Zenon: Girl Of The 21st Century'

If you were a fan of the unicorn highlighters or mermaid hair hues that took over 2017, then you’re in for a treat. A new beauty trend has arisen and it's as fantastical as it gets. These photos of opal hair color prove that too much rainbow is never…
By Ariana Marsh