Congress works to avoid another government shutdown

HBefore we start again: The government faces another shutdown.

Just two months ago, the government approved enough funding to keep things going until December 3. Now he faces yet another crisis as lawmakers scramble to pass an interim finance bill by the end of Friday.

While analysts agree that it is Congress will likely come to an agreement there is a lot at stake to keep its doors open. Without sufficient funds, the federal government and non-essential services will shut down. Millions of federal workers will not be able to work and will not receive paychecks.

Here’s what could happen during a shutdown if lawmakers miss the next funding deadline.

4 services that could be affected by a government shutdown

In the event of a government shutdown, non-essential federal services shut down until new funding legislation is passed and enacted. Each federal agency has its own shutdown plan, which indicates whether its operations can continue during the shutdown and whether it should put its employees on leave.

According to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB), many programs are exempt from a government shutdown. However, many services would experience negative consequences that would trickle down to ordinary Americans. Here are four of the biggest.

1. IRS delays

During a government shutdown, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) would not be able to verify income and Social Security numbers. He would also have difficulty answering questions from taxpayers and resolving compliance issues quickly.

In the latest rush to push through government funding, press secretary Jen Psaki said that even if a shutdown occurs and IRS employees are put on leave, the IRS should continue to process cases. tax refunds and child tax credits. It is likely that this would apply now if the government were to run out of funding.

2. The challenges of delivering food stamps

The Supplementary Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as food stamps, was a lifeline for families grappling with the economic consequences of the pandemic.

While a government shutdown will not reduce funding, it could result in no food stamps being sent. According to the CRFB, previous current resolutions only authorized the sending of services for 30 days after the start of a shutdown.

If a shutdown were to last longer, families with limited means could be forced to reduce their grocery budgets.

3. New social security claims, veterans affairs will not be processed

Those currently receiving social security benefits would not be affected by a government shutdown. But new claims or claims for federal benefits, such as Social Security or Veterans Affairs payments, would not be processed during a government shutdown, which could result in a delay in receiving the first payments.

4. National parks and monuments could close

National parks have proven to be a very popular refuge during the pandemic – in 2021, Yellowstone sets monthly visit records.

However, a government shutdown could put the kibosh on the vacation plans of many Americans. During the 2013 government shutdown, more than 300 parks, national monuments and other sites were closed (although many remained open during the 2018-2019 shutdown, with no visitor services or maintenance).

If another shutdown occurs, it may affect whether national parks and monuments remain open, especially since we are still in a global pandemic.

Why were we facing another stop?

The longest government shutdown in history, lasting 35 days, occurred between 2018 and 2019. It began when Trump requested funding for a $ 5.7 billion interstate wall. United and Mexico and refused to sign a government funding bill that did not include it.

An estimated 800,000 federal workers and 1.2 million contractors went without pay during this period, which occurred during the holidays, with some workers so negatively affected that they have applied for unemployment benefits.

Now Congress is planning to adopt another temporary solution to keep government open. It is not known how long the financing will last, but according to Politico it could be from mid-January to the end of January. Both parties agree that they should do everything possible to avoid another shutdown.

Read more: Will Congress lift the debt ceiling and prevent a government shutdown?

In addition to the political drama, the country continues to grapple with a deadly and highly contagious virus. Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said a pandemic would be a terrible time for a government shutdown.

“The worst time in the world we want to shut down government is in the midst of a pandemic where 140,000 people a day are infected and 2,000 people die every day,” Fauci said in a September interview with the Washington Post . “This is the time when you want the government to work hard to fix this problem. “

In September, Psaki said that a shutdown would be difficult for pandemic relief efforts such as updated treatment recommendations, but “the vast majority of work on Covid would be exempt.”

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