governement shutdown

A government shutdown is a situation in which all governments that are deemed non-essential are closed down for a specific period and employees, which forces employees to go home.  Workers in providing essential services such as air traffic control, law enforcement, and soldiers continue working.

It’s important to note that federal employees aren’t affected by state workers. State police and those who operate plows will still report to work. Schools also remain open because all three are functions carried out by state governments.

A furlough is issued to state employees who are sent home during a government shutdown. They don’t receive payment during this time and their fate is at the mercy of the Congress which can decide whether to pay or not pay them after they resume work after the furlough. So what is this government shutdown and how does it impact your life?

Essential Government services

A lady providing essential services

Essential government services are those that are part of health and safety. Some of these include:

Law Enforcement

Some of the agents that continue to render their services during a government shutdown include marshals, FBI, ATF. The Border Patrol also continues to provide their services because they provide public-facing services.


Soldiers and those operating aircraft carriers continue to show up at their workplaces even during a government shutdown

Social security, Medicare, Medicaid

Medicare is an example of essential services

These are essential services without which, many lives would be lost. Their budgets are secluded from the annual federal budget. Services such as new registration and customer service are affected because workers manning those posts are sent home.

The post office

The post office is an independent institution. As such, it won’t be affected by a government shutdown. Post offices operate by selling postage stamps and providing courier services. They aren’t affected in any way by cuts in the federal budgets.

Air traffic control

Air traffic control continues to operate in high gear even during a government shutdown. TSA is also not affected.

How does a Government Shutdown Happen?

A government shutdown comes about when the president and Congress disagree on the funding of the federal government. Congress is responsible for coming up with budgets for the various functions of the federal government; both big and small. When the money allocated during the last budget is depleted, Congress formulates a new budget or authorizes spending for the various functions using the previous budget as a guide. If this doesn’t happen,  it leads to the collapse of the various functions of the government and eventually leads to a shutdown.

Essential services are protected from a shutdown because Congress is mandated to formulate a budget regardless of the constraints of money.

The first shutdown occurred in 1981. The then-Attorney General wrote several memos to the Congress, one of which required the Congress to send all the workers home if they didn’t allocate money to pay the salaries. Before that, workers continued to show up at their posts and the government became their debtors.

How a Government Shutdown Affects You

The effect a government shutdown will have on you will be determined by whether it’s long or short term. If it’s short term, then, the effects will be minimal unless you’re a federal employee.  For affected employees, it results in a few days off work if it lasts for a short time.

The offices that are deemed non-essential are closed down for a while. The National Park Service despite being a public-facing service is closed down.

Citizens seeking IRS services also face challenges because IRS agents are sent home during a government shutdown.

Financial services are also greatly affected because there’s an interdependence between banks, the IRS, and the Federal Housing Authority. Services such as acquiring new mortgages, hiring, W-2, and W-9 forms filling is also affected

Aid programs such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, federal school lunch programs, and home energy home assistance are paralyzed due to disruptions and eventually, they close down.

Food inspections- some food inspection services may also be delayed. Past government shutdowns have resulted in a slowdown in food inspections

The takeaway

The Takeaway

The extent to which a government shutdown will affect you depends on how long it lasts. When it’s brief, then the effects will be minimal if any. If it persists for prolonged periods, it’s likely to affect you in one way or another. When present for a long time, shutdown persists, the economy is affected. Hiring slows down or stops completely, it affects grants, lending, and businesses also suffer to a great extent.

It may be different this time round

Analysts warn that a government shutdown could result in a recession. For starters, the stock market has been on the greatest dip since 2008 and the warning signs are evident. American citizens are facing problems repaying their debt. A government shutdown may be beneficial in this case.

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