The government shut down at midnight Saturday after the Senate rejected a measure that would have funded the government through February 16. It’s the first government shutdown since 2013 and it begins on the anniversary of President Trump’s inauguration.
The shutdown comes after the Senate was unable to get the 60 votes needed to pass another short-term continuing resolution after a lengthy fight largely about the future of Deferred Action Childhood Arrival (DACA) recipients — known as DREAMers — who receive temporary deportation relief and work authorization through the program. Trump rescinded the program last year, leaving it to Congress to develop a fix. But time is running out, and DACA recipients will begin to lose their deportation protections March 5.
The fight boiled over late Friday night. The Senate rejected the funding measure, and much of the government has now ground to a halt. So what now?
Hundreds of thousands of government workers will begin to be furloughed
Come Monday, thousands of government employees will begin to be furloughed without pay. After the previous shutdown ended, though, those workers were paid retroactively following an agreement after the government reopened.
The New York Times broke down by agency what percentage of workers will likely be furloughed if the government remains shut down, and Housing and Urban Development, Education, and the Environmental Protection Agency look to be hit the hardest, with 95 percent or more of their employees facing furlough if the government remains closed. On Friday, however, EPA administrator Scott Pruitt said the agency has sufficient resources to operate through next week, and that all employees should plan on coming to work next week.
The White House said Friday that 1,056 workers will be furloughed and 659 — those considered essential — would continue to report to work.
At the peak of the 2013 shutdown, 850,000 government workers were furloughed.
And yes, in case you were wondering, there was a spike in new babies born nine months after the government shutdown five years ago.
“Essential” services and those with their own funding streams will continue
Services considered “essential” — mainly those vital to national security — will continue to function during the shutdown. Active duty military will continue to work, and many military operations will continue, but the Department of Defense announced Friday that neither military personnel nor necessary civilian personnel will be paid during the shutdown.
Air traffic controllers, Customs and Border Protection, and Transportation Security Officers (TSA) will all remain on the job.
Lawmakers and their staffs will continue to work through the shutdown as well, in the hopes of coming to a funding agreement. Legislators will be paid. Their staffers will not. The disparity extends beyond pay as well: In 2013, only the gyms reserved exclusively for members of Congress were deemed essential and remained open, though their towel services stopped through the shutdown. Members were reportedly forced to grapple with the same travesty Saturday.
Members also complaining to me that the House gym lacks enough towels this morning and they wonder if it’s because of the shutdown.
— Robert Costa (@costareports) January 20, 2018
The Post Office will remain open and mail delivery will continue, as the Post Office has its own funding stream. Similarly, the Veterans Health Administration, which gets its funding appropriated in advance, will remain open, and more than 95 percent of its employees will be exempt from furlough.
Benefits will continue but could be affected by administrative furloughs
Medicare and other benefit services will continue, and Social Security checks will continue to be sent out. People will also still be able to make benefits appeals and disability claims, but furloughs could affect administrative activities.
Many Social Security Administration employees, for example, will be placed on furlough if the shutdown continues, so although checks would continue to go out, day to day administrative work could be affected, and some functions, including benefit verification and issuing new Social Security cards will cease during the shutdown.
Many parks and museums will be affected
Unlike the 2013 shutdown, the Interior Department says it will be working to keep National Parks and other public lands open to the public during the shutdown. The Smithsonian Museums and National Zoo will both remain open this weekend but close beginning Monday.
Don’t worry, all animals at the zoo will continue to be fed, but the live broadcasts of the animals, including the popular Panda Cam, will cease.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Browser has said the city will help keep the National Mall open, which is operated by the National Park Service. The city plans to help keep the Mall clean from trash and debris, Browser said.
Browser also ensured D.C. residents Friday that services will continue despite the shutdown.