When would a shutdown start? Everything to know.

WASHINGTON−The U.S. is two days away from a shutdown − a situation moving from possible to likely as Congress has failed to cut through gridlock and reach a deal to fund the federal government.

Millions of Americans will be impacted if lawmakers can’t reach a deal before 12:01 a.m. Oct. 1.

A shutdown would impact the country’s largest food assistance programs, federally funded preschool, federal college grants and loans, food safety inspections, national parks and more.

Here’s the latest news on where things stand with the looming government shutdown, why it matters and how it impacts you and your family.

Following a closed-door Republican strategy session, Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., talks to reporters about updates on funding the government and averting a shutdown, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Government shutdown timeline: What to expect today

The House is scrambling, working minute by minute, hour by hour, to pass spending bills. Today’s schedule includes procedural votes on amendments and four spending bills that would fund Homeland Security, Agriculture, Defense and Agriculture and State-Foreign Operations.

Even if all four spending bills pass, the lower chamber still needs to work through its disagreements on each bill with the Senate. And there are less than 100 hours before the government shuts down.

Senators are focusing on their continuing resolution, a temporary funding measure that has garnered bipartisan support and would avert a shutdown. The upper chamber will hold a procedural vote this morning to advance their continuing resolution, which is tied to the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill.

House lawmakers have yet to produce their version of a continuing resolution−a procedural move that has strong opposition from ultraconservatives in the Republican caucus.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Thursday morning the Senate will vote on their version of a stopgap measure Saturday, hours before the deadline to avert a shutdown.

– Rachel Looker

Do national parks close during a government shutdown? 

It depends on the park. During previous shutdowns, some national parks closed entirely, while others remained technically open but without staff to maintain them

Some fell into disarray, with trash piling up and toilets overflowing.

But some park service employees, such as emergency medical personnel, would still be on the job during a government shutdown. However, services could be disrupted.

– Zach Wichter and Nathan Diller

Jimmy Carter’s birthday party moved because of possible government shutdown

Former President Jimmy Carter’s 99th birthday celebration was moved from Sunday, Oct. 1 – his actual birthday – to Saturday, Sept. 30, amid the possibility of a government shutdown, according to the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum.

“We want to make sure we are celebrating regardless of what Congress does,” Tony Clark, the site’s public affairs director told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

If the shutdown does not occur, the museum will have another round of festivities on Sunday for visitors.

−Saman Shafiq and Sudiksha Kochi 

What are essential workers?

Only employees for “essential” government services, generally related to public safety, are able to continue working during a shutdown. This includes air traffic controllers, national security agents and more.

These workers will go without a paycheck for the duration of a shutdown and receive backpay for their time on the job at its conclusion.

Meanwhile, many employees of “non-essential” federal agencies, such as NASA or national parks, will be furloughed.

−Savannah Kuchar 

How a government shutdown affects you

Millions of Americans would be impacted by a government shutdown.

Federal workers would be furloughed without pay. “Essential” federal workers, such as those who work for the Federal Aviation Administration, would work without pay − but would receive backpay once a shutdown ends. Numerous subcontractors would be out of work and would not receive backpay.

The impact would stretch far beyond federal workers though. It would also be felt in millions of homes across America.

Here are some ways a government shutdown would impact your family:

  • Funding for WIC − the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children − would stop immediately

  • Food stamp benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program would remain intact in October but could be impacted after that

  • Children from low-income families would lose access to Head Start preschool programs

  • College students could see delays in their student loans

  • The Food and Drug Administration would delay nonessential food safety inspections

  • The Occupational Safety and Health Administration would limit its work

  • Travelers could see delays with receiving passports

  • National parks could close

  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) would have no money for disaster relief

−Candy Woodall

Is there going to be a government shutdown?

The U.S. government will shut down at 12:01 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 1 if lawmakers don’t pass a continuing resolution or a federal budget by Sept. 30.

The continuing resolution, a stopgap measure that would temporarily fund the government while lawmakers work to pass a comprehensive budget, would prevent a shutdown from occurring on Oct. 1.

Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said the House will vote Friday on a continuing resolution, but it’s unclear if it has enough votes to pass.

−Sudiksha Kochi

Does a government shutdown affect state employees?

A shutdown could impact state employees whose employers depend on federal funds to operate and must shut down certain activities that the government has deemed non-necessary.

In this case, certain state employees could be furloughed until a shutdown passes.

But state employees who receive salaries from private employers who do not rely on federal funds wouldn’t necessarily be impacted.

-Sudiksha Kochi

What happens when the government shuts down?

A government shutdown means all federal agencies and services officials don’t deem “essential” have to stop their work and close their doors.

Some of those essential services include the U.S. Postal Service delivering mail and people receiving Medicare and Social Security benefits. Those will continue whether or not the government shuts down.

But so-called “non-essential” work can still have significant impacts for federal employees and Americans across the country. Thousands of federal workers would be furloughed, government food assistance benefits could be delayed and some food safety inspections could also be put on pause.

– Marina Pitofsky  

Will a government shutdown affect air travel?

The deepest impact would not be on your flight or cruise.

Funding to agencies like the Federal Aviation Administration, Transportation Security Administration and Customs and Border Protection would be on hold. However, the agents who you typically interact with at airports and seaports, and the controllers who oversee your flights are considered essential and will be working without pay during the shutdown.

Impacts on those agencies have more to do with things like hiring and training. All the crucial safety functions like inspections and air traffic control continue.

Consular operations in the U.S. and internationally will also continue normally “as long as there are sufficient fees” collected to support them, according to the most recent guidance from the State Department. “This includes passports, visas, and assisting U.S. citizens abroad.”

There could be economic repercussions, though. A government shutdown is estimated to cost the country’s travel economy as much as $140 million per day, according to an analysis for the U.S. Travel Association.

− Zach Wichter and Nathan Diller

Would a government shutdown affect Social Security?

Social Security recipients will continue to receive checks in the event of a government shutdown and Medicare benefits will not be interrupted.

However, employees in the Social Security Administration are likely to be furloughed and government food assistance benefits could see delay.

A few services that are not directly related to Social Security payment benefits and direct-service operations would be temporarily suspended.

− Marina Pitofsky and Sudiksha Kochi

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Government shutdown live updates: When would the shutdown start?

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