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Government Shutdown Frequently Asked Questions

Funding for the federal government expires on September 30, and we are working every day to do everything possible to prevent a government shutdown. A shutdown would be irresponsible and could cause uncertainty and harm to many programs and people. It is not the way to run the government. Unfortunately, not everyone agrees. This page is to help you plan for a possible federal government shutdown, and we have tried to provide answers to the most frequently asked questions. We will keep this page updated with current information. Should you have issues or need help, you can contact any of my offices and we will do the best job we can in assisting you during these challenging times.

Will a government shutdown affect when I receive my Social Security?
No. Social Security is funded using mandatory spending that is not subject to the government appropriations process. Its funding is not impacted by a government shutdown. However, certain Social Security Administration’s employees will be furloughed, meaning that customer service will be impacted. The Social Security Administration has shared a contingency plan that details their operations during a government shutdown.
 
Will Medicare and Medicaid benefits be affected? 
Current Medicare, Medicaid, and disability insurance beneficiaries will continue to receive their benefits assuming a shutdown lasts less than three months. 
 
What happens to veterans' services? 
All Veterans Affairs (VA) medical facilities and clinics will remain operational. The VA will continue to process veterans’ benefits. However, veterans will be affected by the shutdown of other services that they count on, including education and job training, support for veteran- owned businesses, and even assistance for homeless veterans. Click here to view the VA's Contingency Plan.
 
Which federal employees keep working during a government shutdown? 
When the government shuts down, federal agencies are required to classify their employees whose salaries have lapsed as either "excepted" or "not excepted." The employees classified as "excepted" work without pay during the shutdown. The employees classified as "not excepted" are put on unpaid furlough. 
 
What is the impact on U.S. military personnel and federal law enforcement? 
All active-duty and Guard and Reservists on active-duty orders are excepted and therefore are required to work without pay. On-base non-acute health care will cease, although off-base care provided through Tricare will not be affected. On-base child care will be open on a case-by-case basis. Federal law enforcement will also be required to work without pay for the duration of a shutdown. 
 
Will military and federal retiree benefits be suspended? 
Military and federal retirees will continue to receive their retirement benefits. Processing new applications or other requested changes will be delayed. 
 
Will air travel be affected? 
Air traffic controllers, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers, and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents will remain on the job without pay. If some do not report to work, as has happened in prior shutdowns, there will be significant delays and longer wait times across the country. 
 
What does this mean for disaster relief efforts? 
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) staff will still respond to emergencies, but all long-term projects will be delayed due to a lack of funding in the Disaster Relief Fund. 
 
How will this affect environmental protection and cleanup? 
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will stop inspecting most hazardous waste sites, as well as drinking water and chemical facilities. Efforts to address dangerous contaminants like PFAS — which are linked to severe health effects, including cancer — will be delayed, and cleanup activities at Superfund sites will slow or cease. 
 
What is the impact on food assistance? 
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) will quickly run out of funding and be unable to provide food for children and parents in need. In the case of a prolonged shutdown, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits may also be affected. 
 
What is the impact on food safety activities? 
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) food safety activities — such as routine inspections of facilities — will be delayed across the country. 
 
What is the impact on housing? 
The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) will stop insuring some new mortgages and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will stop processing some new loans. The Department of Agriculture (USDA) will stop new loan and loan guarantee activity. The VA will continue to guarantee home loans. Funding for federal housing assistance programs, such as Housing Choice Vouchers, may be jeopardized in a prolonged shutdown. For more information from the NHLP and NLIHC, click here.
 
How will this affect small businesses? 
The Small Business Administration (SBA) will stop processing new business loans, such as through the 7(a) and 504 programs. However, SBA’s Disaster Loan Program will continue regular operations. For more information from the House Committee on Small Business, click here.
 
Will my mail still arrive? 
Yes. The U.S. Postal Service is not affected by a shutdown. 
 
What does this mean for medical research? 
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) will be forced to delay new clinical trials. New patients who are waiting for a chance at new treatment through a clinical trial will be turned away. 
 
Will I still be able to visit National Parks and monuments? 
Across the country, services that require National Park Service staff — including trash removal and operating campgrounds and concessions — may be stopped. Closures will be determined on a location-by-location basis; open-air parks and monuments in Washington, D.C. will likely remain accessible. Smithsonian museums may also be impacted by a lengthy shutdown. For more information from the National Parks Service, click here.
 
How does this affect State Department operations? 
Consular services, passport services, and visa services are expected to continue in the immediate aftermath of a government shutdown. In a prolonged shutdown, passport and visa issuance could be slowed. Access to passport agencies located in some government buildings may be limited. 
 
What is the impact on state and local services? 
The federal government shutdown will not immediately affect any state or local services. However, with federal funding cut off, some state or local governments may have to change their operations. Check with state and local agencies for specific questions. 
 
Last updated 09/29/2023

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