The clock is ticking, and a partial shutdown looms over Washington, D.C. Find out all you need to know about the potential closure.

The deadline is approaching. On Friday, December 21, at midnight, a quarter of the government will close unless Congress and the White House can reach an agreement. With only a couple of days left, the clock is ticking to keep the government operating as normal.

The departments affected by the shutdown

Six federal departments have already received approval for their budgets and therefore will not be impacted by the impending shutdown. However, nine other departments and about a dozen agencies are working under a short-term budget that is set to expire at midnight on Friday. If Congress doesn’t approve these budgets by the deadline or find another temporary solution, the following departments will close, leaving about 800,000 employees without pay through the holidays:

  • Department of Agriculture
  • Department of Commerce
  • Department of Justice
  • Department of Homeland Security
  • Department of the Interior
  • Department of State
  • Department of Transportation
  • Department of the Treasury
  • Department of Housing and Urban Development

Other agencies that could potentially close during the potential partial shutdown include NASA, the IRS, and the National Park Service.

What this means for federal employees

According to the Senate Appropriations Committee, about 420,000 federal employees will have to work without pay, and roughly 380,000 federal employees will be sent home without pay.

If the shutdown occurs, the Office of Management and Budget will issue guidance to every department and agency, which will then develop their own agency-wide plans. In general, each agency will have to stop any non-essential work and these employees will be forced to stay home until new funding is approved.

Services affected by the partial shutdown

Federal employees will not be the only ones affected by a partial shutdown. More than 30 million small businesses will not have access to federally assisted loans since Small Business Administration guarantees to back loans would be frozen. Payments to victims of crimes and training for local law enforcement would freeze during a potential shutdown, and people who want to buy a new home or refinance a mortgage insured by the Federal House Administration would have to wait until after the government reopens.

If you were planning to visit a national park during the holidays, you may also want to reconsider your plans. The National Park Service could close gates at national parks throughout the country like it did last January. Although there were a few employees on staff to maintain the parks, the visitor centers and recreational buildings were all closed during the last shutdown.

Government services that will continue as normal

Don’t worry about your holiday shopping, because your packages will still arrive at your home as scheduled. The U.S. Postal Service will remain open, and mail will be delivered as usual. Your holiday travel plans will also remain unaffected as Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents will still continue to work through the shutdown, Amtrak will run as normal, and Customs and Border Patrol agents will work to ensure travel remains business as usual. Social security checks will also be mailed as planned, and Medicare and Medicaid coverage will continue as normal.

When would the government reopen?

There is no timeline for when government services would reopen in the event of a partial shutdown. However, it is likely that the budget issues will not be resolved until the new Congress convenes on January 3, 2019. The longest shutdown on record was back in 1995 when the government remained closed for 21 days into 1996.

Hopefully, we can wish for a Christmas miracle in the next coming days and avoid a partial shutdown. Let us know how a closure would affect you and how you plan on staying jolly this holiday season.   

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