We are once again in the midst of a government shutdown, not knowing how long it will last. In recent years, the threat of an actual government shutdown has become an all too common occurrence. But what does it really mean when this happens, and how does it affect you in your everyday life?
First, why does a government shutdown even happen? A government shutdown occurs when Congress fails to enact an appropriations bill, and the President does not sign it into law before the end of the government fiscal year. This is due to the Antideficiency Act which requires the shutdown of the government and furlough of non-essential personnel. While you may think that this may not affect you, you would be surprised how many areas of your life are touched by the federal government. The impacts are minimal at first, but the longer the impasse of an appropriations bill is the larger the impact will be. Here are 3 ways that you could be affected by the government shutdown.
- Passports could be slowed
Due to the furlough of non-essential personnel, the processing of passport documentation and issuance of passports could be delayed causing headaches for travelers going abroad soon. This would only be the case if the shutdown were prolonged, as the State Department's funding for passports is partially from the fees required for the application.
- National Parks and Monuments
As of right now, it is being reported from the National Parks Service that some of the National Parks and Monuments will remain open with limited access while others will be closed. There will be no visitor services such as restrooms, trash collection, facilities, and so on. If you were planning a trip soon to your local National park, it may have to wait until the reopening of the government.
If you are starting your taxes for the New Year, you could be affected by the IRS shutdown. Due to the tax overhaul last year, any questions of the new tax codes may have to wait to be answered until furloughed IRS employees are back at work after the shutdown.
One more area that will be affected by the government shutdown is our federal employees and our military. As many as 800,000 federal employees will be have unpaid furlough until the shutdown has ended. Usually, federal employees are back paid upon their return to work for the time during shutdown, but that equates to lost productivity and wasted money. For example, the 2013 shutdown cost $2.0 billion in lost productivity.
Our military on the other hand must continue to work without pay along with other branches of federal law enforcement agencies to continue the safety and security of our country until the shutdown ends. Here is to hoping comprise can be found and funding obtained to continue the operations of the government and to help the people of the United States.