Way back in the day, shutdowns usually weren’t that big a deal. They happened every year when Jimmy Carter was president, averaging 11 days each. During Reagan’s two terms, there were six shutdowns, typically just one or two days apiece. Deals got cut. Everybody moved on.
Before a three-day lapse in January, caused by Democrats’ insistence that any budget measure come with protections for young immigrants known as “dreamers,” the most recent significant shutdown was a 16-day partial shuttering of the government in 2013. That one came as tea party conservatives tried to block implementation of Obama’s health care law. The government also shut down for a few hours last February amid a partisan dispute over deficit spending.
” As a DOD Fed since the Reagan days, I went through many of these. We always got paid, and I only remember one time I had to stay home. Was just another day off to me, in the end. That last one in 2013, I wasn’t affected, except we knew who were, including a lot of senior management. I got temporarily designated a couple levels higher than normal for the two weeks of the shutdown. Business went on. “—David M. Former DOD Fed.
“In the end shutdowns are paid vacations for those that are furloughed and essential personnel that work are all back paid when the shutdown ends. So it really becomes a political football which doesn’t hurt anyone.”
—Elizabeth, from Parks Employee
WHAT’S OPEN AND WHAT’S CLOSED
Social Security checks will still go out. Troops will remain at their posts. Doctors and hospitals will get their Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements. The U.S. Postal Service, busy delivering packages for the holiday season, is an independent agency and won’t be affected.
In fact, virtually every essential government agency, like the FBI, the Border Patrol and the Coast Guard, will remain open. Transportation Security Administration officers will continue to man airport checkpoints.
The air traffic control system, food inspection, Medicare, veterans’ health care and many other essential government programs will run as usual. The Federal Emergency Management Agency can continue to respond to disasters.
Nearly all of the Department of Homeland Security’s 240,000 employees will be at work because they’re considered essential.
The Special Counsel’s Office, which is investigating potential ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, will not be affected by a shutdown.
But hundreds of thousands of federal workers will be forced off the job, and some services will go dark. Even after funding is restored, the political repercussions could be enduring.
The Washington Monument and many other iconic park service attractions would close, as would museums along the National Mall. In the past, the vast majority of national parks were closed to visitors and campers, but during the last government shutdown in January the Interior Department tried to make parks as accessible as possible despite bare-bones staffing levels. It was not clear Monday if that effort will be repeated.
Both the House and Senate are adjourned until noon on Saturday; once they return to Capitol Hill, lawmakers hope to try to find a way forward, with members set to be given a 24-hour notice of any planned vote.