The United States government may be heading towards another shutdown.
Republicans and Democrats in Congress must agree to a new budget by Friday, April 28th, and if they don’t, this means that non-essential government services will cease operations until the situation is resolved. Thousands of federal employees who are not considered essential will be furloughed, while others will continue to work but with their paychecks being delayed until after the shutdown.
So if a shutdown does go into effect, how might it impact the average person’s day-to-day life? Here’s what you need to know.
National Parks, Monuments & Museums Will Be Closed
A government shutdown would cause national parks and monuments to close.
That means that if you had plans to visit the Lincoln Memorial, the Statue of Liberty, the Grand Canyon, or any other similar location next week, and the government has shut down, you will be turned away.
During the last government shutdown, barricades were put up in order to stop the public from being able to access the national parks and monuments.
In addition, museums like the Smithsonian National Museum of American History will be closed.
The Postal Service Will Be Unaffected
Fortunately, any potential government shutdown would have absolutely no affect on your mail.
That’s because the United States Postal Service brings in revenue from the sale of postage, and therefore it will be able to keep operating.
Any other government service that does not actually receive funding from the Treasury Department would not be affected by the government shutdown. Some USPS workers would likely be furloughed, but based on last shutdown, this won’t be significant enough to actually impact your mail delivery.
Social Security, Food Stamps & Lunches For Low-income Students Will Not Be Affected
The government shutting down does not mean that Social Security checks won’t still be on their way; the Social Security program operates whether or not Congress agrees to an annual budget bill.
The same goes for food stamps, as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is another entitlement that is not affected by annual spending bill disputes like this one.
Low-income students will also still receive free lunches during the government shutdown.
The Special Supplemental Nutrition for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program, however, would run out of federal funds during a shutdown, but during the 2013, they continued to operate anyway.
There May Be Delays at Airports
A government shutdown wouldn’t exactly send airports into chaos, but it might cause some delays.
That’s because essential employees like air traffic controllers and TSA agents would remain on duty during the shutdown, but some other employees who are not considered essential would be furloughed.
Security will of course be as tight as ever during a shutdown, and so the only impact the shutdown would have on your trip would be a potentially longer line at security.
Passports & Visas Will Still Be Issued, But Expect Delays
Passports are still issued during a government shutdown.
However, you should expect some delays. According to Fox News, during the government shutdown of 1995, 200,000 passports went unprocessed each day. The passport service is funded in part by fees, but it also depends on some funding from Congress.
The same goes for visas: visas will still be issued, but during the 1995 government shutdown, 30,000 applications went unprocessed each day.
In addition, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will continue processing green card applications during a shutdown.
Members of the Military Remain on Duty But Could Have Their Paychecks Delayed
Active duty personnel remain on duty through the government shutdown.
However, their paychecks may be delayed. The Department of Defense can’t pay employees during the shutdown, and so it’s possible that those on active duty would need to work for some time without knowing when they will be paid.
During the 2013 government shutdown, though, Congress specifically passed a bill called The Pay Our Military Act in order to ensure that members of the military were paid in a timely fashion. If a government shutdown occurred again, Congress would probably pass another version of this bill.
The National Weather Service & National Hurricane Center Will Still Operate
You’ll still be able to keep track of the weather and of incoming hurricanes during the government shutdown.
During previous shutdowns, the National Weather Service and the National Hurricane Center both kept on essential employees and continued to operate. However, these employees will not be paid until after the shutdown ends.
NASA will furlough virtually all of its employees during the government shutdown, though. In 2013, of NASA’s 18,000 employees, only 600 remained working during the government shutdown, according to Weather.com.