The US Government Only Has 5 Days To Avoid A Shutdown

On April 29, a mere five days from today, the U.S. government will run out of money, causing a complete government shutdown. Here are five key facts you need to know.

How we got here:

Congress has yet to present a funding bill for signature. Without it, the government isn’t authorized to pay its bills. Politicians have until this Friday, April 29, to present a bill to avoid a shutdown. However, as Forbes reported, Congress can pass a continuing resolution to keep government funding at current levels until an appropriations bill can be pushed through Congress.


An extension only buys us a few more months:

A continuing resolution will only keep the government funded through the rest of fiscal year 2017, which ends on September 30, 2017. According to an aide who spoke exclusively with Reuters, an extension is looking more and more likely, as Representative Steny Hoyer, the second-ranking House Democrat, told his fellow Democrats that they should only support a short-term measure. 


This isn’t our first (or likely last) shutdown:

President Bush had a government shutdown over the long Columbus Day weekend in 1990. Additionally, President Clinton’s administration had two multiday government shutdowns: a five-day shutdown in 1995 and three-week shutdown in 1996, Forbes reported. The last government shutdown was in 2013 under President Obama. That one lasted an agonizing 16 days.


Why this financial bill is taking so long:

The financial bill is currently being used as a bargaining chip for both sides of the political aisle. While there are currently hundreds of issues up for financial debate, the largest include Obamacare subsidies, which will be voted on again this week, funding for Trump’s prized border wall, and tax reform, which will also be discussed when Congress returns on April 24. But as The president’s chief of staff Reince Priebus said on NBC’s Meet the Press, the president will not be budging on a few items. “We expect a massive increase in military spending. We expect money for border security in this bill,” Priebus said. “And it ought to be. Because the president won overwhelmingly. And everyone understands the border wall was part of it.”

However, as The New York Times noted, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, has called provisions for the wall a nonstarter.

But there is one place Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s budget director, says they’d be willing to trade: $1 of subsidy payments under the Affordable Care Act in exchange for every $1 to pay for the border wall that the president wants to build. But, as Reuters reported, Democrats have signaled they would not cooperate if any financial bill contains money for the border wall, or if the bill ends federal subsidies to help low-income people buy health insurance.

What happens if the government actually shuts down:

Don’t worry, it won’t look like The Purge, but it will be nasty. According to the NewStatesman, an estimated 800,000 of the 2.1 million people working in the public sector will be sent home without pay, and in Washington, D.C., that includes services like trash collection, street cleaning, and libraries.

Additionally, travelers may want to rethink their plans. While airports and airport security will continue without issue, passport applications may cease. In the 1996 shutdown, applications eventually stopped being processed once the money ran out, with hundreds of thousands of applicants affected, according to the NewStatesman.

And you can forget visiting a national park or monument. As the National Parks Service explained on its site, “All 401 national parks all across the country will be closed affecting as many as 715,000 national park visitors each day the government remains shut down.” Only essential personnel remain on the payroll while an estimated 21,000 will be sent home without pay. The national parks shutdown also includes national monuments and national zoos.

Beyond parks and passports, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will also be forced to cut back services; the Food and Drug Administration will have to cease most of its food-safety operations; disability benefits, including those for veterans, may slow down; and the Small Business Administration will be unable to continue providing loans, according to The Washington Post. But fear not, the post office and the military will feel no effect of a government shutdown.  

For his part, President Trump has said he has little interest in a government shutdown, telling Bloomberg “I think we’re in good shape.” However, he has ordered federal agencies to begin preparations for a potential partial government shutdown just in case.

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