Five Real Impacts of a Government Shutdown

Sep 21, 2013 1:11pm
GTY garbage piles 57328852 jt 130921 16x9 608 Five Real Impacts of a Government Shutdown

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WASHINGTON — Congress appears to be moving closer and closer to a government shutdown.

On Friday, with 10 calendar days to go until the Sept. 30 deadline, the Republican controlled House of Representatives passed a budget bill to fund the government. Oh, and defund President Obama’s controversial health care law, a key portion of which is set to take effect on Oct. 1, making this bill dead on arrival in the Democratically controlled Senate, never mind in the executive branch.

Although this shutdown dance feels familiar — we did it in 2011 — the last time the government actually shut down was almost 20 years ago, in late 1995 and early 1996. Several of the key players in this impending budget showdown weren’t even in Washington yet.

President Obama was 34 and teaching at the University of Chicago Law School. Sen. Ted Cruz, a key lawmaker leading the charge to defund Obamacare, was 25 and had just graduated from Harvard Law School.

With this in mind, it’s likely that the memories of that shutdown and the real-world consequences are not fresh in people’s minds anymore.

Here are five likely impacts of a government shutdown:

Suspension of Approval of Applications for Small Business Loans. The specifics of a shutdown — what stays open, what doesn’t — aren’t yet known, but the general rule is that workers and services deemed non-essential would be forced to stay home. One department where workers would likely have to hunker down while the shutdown plays out is the Small Business Administration, which, among other things, approves applications for loans to small businesses. These services would probably be suspended in a shutdown and depending on how long the last shutdown lasted, applications could get backlogged, meaning the impact could be felt even after the government reopens.

Museums, Monuments and Parks Would Shut Down. D.C.’s many monuments, parks and museums would all shut down.

Medical Research Interrupted. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) would not be able to take on any new patients, or begin any new clinical trials. The good news on the medical front, Medicare will likely be funded even in the event of a shutdown.

Passport Services Suspended. Passport about to expire? Get it updated before Sept. 30. Passport services would be suspended in the event of a government shutdown with a few exceptions in cases of emergencies.

D.C. Residents, Start Composting. Because trash collection in the District of Columbia will probably be suspended temporarily if the government shuts down. This one would only affect D.C. residents — an unfortunate consequence of living in a district with a budget that must be approved by Congress. In 2011, the last time a government shutdown appeared imminent (though it ultimately was avoided) a Facebook event called “If Boehner shuts down the government I am taking my trash to his house” racked up over 7,000 attendees.

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