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What Really Happens in a Shutdown?

by Countable | 1.19.18

Congress failed to pass a spending bill by midnight Friday, and so the federal government shut down. Will you still be able to get your mail? Visit a national park? Investigate a sitting president for possible collusion with a foreign power? Here’s what you need to know about a government shutdown:

What is a government shutdown?

The federal government receives most of its funding from Congress. A shutdown occurs when Congress and the president fail to sign into law a spending bill to keep the government running.

Who stops working?

Over 800,000 federal workers are obligated to stop showing up for work—something known as an "unpaid furlough."

Here are some of the major departments that shut down:

  • Environmental Protection Agency.

  • Food and Drug Administration.

  • Health and Human Services.

  • Internal Revenue Service.

  • NASA.

  • National Institute of Health.

Who continues working?

"Essential" employees, such as those in law enforcement and security, will continue working.

Do members of Congress and the president still get their paychecks?

A Congressional Research report answered this question:

"Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution forbids the salary of the President to be reduced while he or she is in office, thus effectively guaranteeing the President of compensation regardless of any shutdown action."

"Due to their constitutional responsibilities and a permanent appropriation for congressional pay, Members of Congress are not subject to furlough. Additionally, Article I, Section 6, of the Constitution states that Members of Congress ‘shall receive a Compensation for their Services, to be ascertained by Law, and paid out of the Treasury of the United States.’"

Is the military affected?

The military gets paid on the 1st and 15th of every month.

The Department of Defense issued guidance Friday saying that if there’s a shutdown: "Military personnel on active duty, including reserve component personnel on Federal active duty, will continue to report for duty and carry out assigned duties."

Will airport security be even worse than usual?

Airports will remain open and air traffic controllers and Transportation Security Administration officials will stay on the job.

Amtrak will continue operating trains through the shutdown.

Can I still visit a national park?

During most shutdowns, no. This year, as the Washington Post explained, "Trump administration officials have made a precedent-setting decision to keep National Parks and public lands 'as accessible as possible’ in the event of a shutdown."

Will the Russia investigation continue?

Yes. Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller's investigation is funded by a permanent indefinite appropriation, not an annual Congressional appropriation.

Will I still get my mail?

Don’t fret. The Postal Service isn’t funded by Congress—your coupons to the local tire place will arrive as always.

Look, I was actually asking about my Social Security Benefits

Yes. You will continue to receive your Social Security Benefits.

And Domino’s coupons.

How long will a shutdown last?

Long as it takes. Democrats and Republicans in both houses of Congress need to reach a deal to fund the government.

The government shutdown of 2013 lasted 16 days.

What do you think?

Do you support the shutdown? Hit Take Action and tell your reps. And share your questions and comments below.

—Josh Herman

Related Reading

(Photo Credit: CatLane / iStock)

Countable

Written by Countable

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(177)
  • Dan
    01/19/2018
    ···

    If no DACA, no deal! Shut it down. I’m tired of our DACA friends and their families being used as ransom pawns by this morally bankrupt and corrupt Republican-controlled Congress. #SHUTITDOWN #NODACANODEAL

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  • Gilbert
    01/19/2018
    ···

    I don’t want to see the Government shut down but “We The People” cannot continue giving in to Democratic extortion in their quest to put ILLEGAL ALIENS ahead and above the AMERICAN CITIZENS they were elected to protect and represent. #DrainTheSwamp

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  • BeStrong
    01/19/2018
    ···

    Again...partisan politics are running all legislative decisions. With a GOP majority in both houses, the leadership blames the other side. The reality is that there are both Dems and Reps against the current proposed legislation. And again it’s WE the People that pay the price. If you don’t like this, vote em out. #Wakeup #Vote2018 #Vote2020

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  • Marylynn
    01/19/2018
    ···

    Now that we know what a government shutdown entails, I want to point out the lies the Liar in Chief is spreading. It would be nice if he wasn't so damn ignorant. The military will be paid, social security checks will still go out, sadly the Liar in Chief will get paid and so will the good for nothing lawmakers. It seems they did all they could to protect themselves, while screwing over everyone else. This is yet another reason why we need to all get out and vote in the upcoming election, not to mention voting the Liar in Chief out of office in 2020, if he isn't impeached or imprisoned before then.

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  • Paulina
    01/19/2018
    ···

    I just want to know this from the GOP & evil monster... Why do you hate the new generation/future of this country so much ? You want to go backwards instead of moving forward! You’re telling your Neo-Nazi supporter that is okay to be racist! You want to bring the coal industry back? When the life expectancy is shorter. You’re pro-life? Yet you won’t protect Dreamers or CHIP! You’re making your rich friends richer & you brag about it on your stupid ass expensive dinners?! So no GOP, you will not win this time! You guys control all branches of government, & you want to point the blame on us Democrats?! Really?! So please representatives, don’t let them bully you into agreeing to an extension. We don’t need an extension on DACA, we need a permanent solution to this issue!!!

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  • ManfromNebraska
    01/19/2018
    ···

    A government shutdown is better than passing a terrible bill! Take the time to get it right and don’t rush and compromise on important things.

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  • Iona
    01/19/2018
    ···

    No more continuing bills. Shutdown then pass a proper budget. We are sick of it all

    Like (53)
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  • Judith
    01/19/2018
    ···

    CALLING ALL DEMOCRATS TO HOLD THE LINE !!! HOLD THAT LINE !!! PROTECT DACA AND GIVE THE REPUBLICANS ALL THE ROPE THEY NEED TO HANG THEMSELVES BY THEIR SHUTTING DOWN THE GOVERNMENT AND LET THEM TWIST IN THE WIND !!!! CALLING ALL DEMOCRATS TO HOLD THE LINE !!!

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  • Karen
    01/19/2018
    ···

    I am a Republican but please people don’t give in. Let the government shut down if that’s what it takes. The Republicans in office don’t care about people like me. Income $24,000. We need and need isn’t a big enough word, but we need a government to care. Please don’t give in to another lousy choice. Karen Riss, Medford Oregon

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  • Anna
    01/19/2018
    ···

    The sad part of all this is that even though the government shuts down, Congress still gets paid!

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  • SneakyPete
    01/19/2018
    ···

    It’s my opinion that the Democrats are once again, placing the ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS above the legal American residents and sadly 😢 our military service members. Regardless what Democratic Senate Leader Schumer’s FALSE rhetoric says, this will be a Democratic and not a Republican, Governmental shutdown, and they will have to bear the consequences for it.

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  • TFlorence
    01/19/2018
    ···

    I can't believe people bought into the lie that the military won't get paid. That's straight up BS. The Greedy Old Party are in control of all branches of government and they are trying to blame the shut down on the Dems? Please! We all know who's responsible. Vote all of the stupid GOPs out! Maybe then, something will get done.

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  • S
    01/19/2018
    ···

    Paul Ryan knew CHIP would need to be reauthorized and he easily could have put up legislation to continue to fund it months ago. CHIP could have been a stand alone bill, passed and signed but Ryan doesn’t believe in any program which benefits the low or middle income classes. He wants to gut every social program offered and give the savings to the wealthy. This shut down which for its duration will prevent reauthorizing CHIP started with him. Bipartisan bill to fund CHIP would have been an easy do. Curious isn’t it with such a popular program that he didn’t generate legislation or have someone in the house generate it? He and Rep wanted to give the country’s money to the wealthy through tax cuts and Ryan wanted to do it so CHIP funding would be very much at risk. He establishes the House’s agenda and his agenda didn’t include any social programs.

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  • Karalyn
    01/19/2018
    ···

    If government shuts down, Republicans and Trump are responsible, NOT democrats.

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  • Abbi
    01/19/2018
    ···

    I blame the republicans for getting greedy and trying to pass terrible bills that give more money to the rich. Congress shouldn't get paid during this, the government workers should, hell congress should forfeit their checks to them! Unpaid furlough sounds like slavery! Pass a clean dream act now!!

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  • Plegian
    01/19/2018
    ···

    Congress needs to get it's act together. You took an oath, not to kick the can down the road but to do the right thing for our youth by funding CHIP and giving the Dreamers citizenship putting politics aside. Republican's control everything and will be held accountable if the government shuts down.

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  • Michael
    01/19/2018
    ···

    A shutdown needs to be in place until a full budget is passed. If any new amendments to our Constitution were to ever be added, having a balanced budget should be the first! Regardless of what side of aisle you support, the Schumer (D-NY) Shutdown will occur because the Democrats continue to put the desires illegal immigrants before the needs of their own citizens. The liberals have finally LEFT the American people to pursue votes from foreigners.

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  • J
    01/19/2018
    ···

    I’m sorry for the GOP defenders, but they’ve set the parameters for a deal, then changed the parameters. Don’t blame the other side if you don’t offer something that they can appreciate. A good deal requires both sides the possibilities of a small victory. Don’t put the other side down and expect them to love the deal. Every kid knows how to make a deal. GOP, grow up a little!

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  • Anthony
    01/19/2018
    ···

    Wow, you can’t even imagine how this breaks my heart. I stepped out and contacted my local republican rep, senator, majority leader, speaker of the house and the president petitioning them to work with the Democrats on passing DACA. Little did I know that I was going to get screwed because of all of this. I am a retired Master sergeant who served 21 years in United States Air Force. During the presidential election, I told my brother that I hoped Hillary wouldn’t get elected because if she did she would take my military retirement and give it to illegal immigrants and refugees. Sadly enough that’s exactly what the Democrats are doing at this time. My military retirement and my disability are the only income that I have at this time. I need that money to survive. I have two children to feed and clothe and things were tight before. The last thing I need is to fall further behind on my bills because of this! I don’t care what side of the aisle you’re on, it is a sad day in America when we put illegal immigrants before our military and retired/disabled veterans.

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  • Sergeant
    01/19/2018
    ···

    I was stationed in Germany during a shutdown. It was terrible for the Army. We still had bills to pay and the collectors don’t excuse you because of a Gov shutdown. It affected my credit and my moral. My family was frightened and the only positive thing was when my German landlady handed me an envelope containing 500DMs, about half my rent. She told me in broken English, “I read about Americans soldiers not getting paid and because of how wonderful we were treated after the war I give you back some money. The soldiers saved us from starvation and gave us all so much help, I’ll never forget their love....”

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