I am sad to report that congressional Republicans, through extremism and intransigence, have forced a shutdown of the federal government as of midnight Friday, April 8. With a shutdown underway, I've created this information and resource page. I want the 7th District to have an idea of what to expect, as well as help you and your family during this government shutdown.
How Does the Shutdown Affect You?
Services will continue that are deemed essential for the safety of human life and the protection of property. This includes the armed forces, border patrol, police, fire fighting and federal workers who provide medical care on the job. The Postal Service and the Federal Reserve, which are both self-funded, will also continue to operate.
The government will temporarily stop all "non-essential" services. However, "essential services" will continue to operate, such as those listed above. Other federal agencies may cut their services to a bare minimum, and are determining which of their services fall under these rules.
- IRS—Tax forms still need to be postmarked by Monday, April 18 (Patriots Day is not a federal holiday and you can no longer send forms to the IRS for processing). Electronic tax returns should be processed, but paper returns will not be, leading to a delay in getting your refund if you file by paper.
- Social Security—Benefits for this crucial program do not go through the annual appropriations process, so they should continue being deposited in your account or mailed to your home. Local field offices should remain open. However, staff furloughs are likely to delay other services such as enrolling new participants, holding hearings, or resolving problems.
- Medicare— Benefits for this program are also exempt from the shutdown, so current participants should not notice any disruption, but new applications could be delayed.
- Military— Military personnel paychecks will be suspended during the funding lapse.
- Veterans—VHA hospitals such as VA Puget Sound Health Care System and Community-Based Outpatient Clinics will stay open, and VBA disability compensation will be paid. While VA hospitals will remain open, the last government shutdown saw many veterans' benefits cut or reduced.
- Visas and Passports—Prior shutdowns have kept new visa and passport applications from being processed. Embassies are open for services for American citizens, but will not conduct visa interviews. Emergency passport requests should still be processed.
- National Parks—National Park Service grounds, museums, and monuments will close, disrupting educational visits and vacation plans.
- Unemployment—If the shutdown continues for an extended period, the federal funds that help states pay the costs of their unemployment programs could run out. This would require the state to step in and advance the money to keep their program running. Otherwise, benefits would be reduced or stopped.
- Federal Courts—Federal courts are not affected by the shutdown and remain open.
- Disaster Response—Disaster Response is not affected by the shutdown.
How Does the Shutdown Affect Government Workers?
Government employees deemed “non-essential” will be furloughed, such that a limited number of employees will be allowed to work. Federal employees who are furloughed will not receive pay. Additionally, federal contractors will not be paid during this time and will not be eligible for back pay. Even if you want to work unpaid, federal law prohibits the government from accepting volunteer work.
Articles Related to the Last Government Shutdown (1995-1996)
- Washington Post: Lessons From 1995-1996
- Think Progress: Did the 1995 Government Shutdown Boost Clinton's Approval?
Related Websites & Articles
- U.S. Office of Personnel Management - "Guidance and Information on Furlough"
- Executive Office of the President, Office of Management and Budget - "Planning for Agency Operations"
- Executive Office of the President, Office of Management and Budget - "Agency Contingency Plans"
- Congressional Research Service - "Shutdown of the Federal Government: Causes, Processes and Effects"
- Sighting Plans in Washington, DC?
- Washington Post: Shutdown Plan Details
Our Washington, D.C. and District Office are normally open from 9am - 6pm. Please note that our staff will be limited due to the shutdown along with our ability to work with federal agencies on your behalf. You can get more information by calling either of these offices:
Washington, D.C.: (202) 225-3106
District office: (206) 553-7170