Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, we are just a few days away from a potential government shutdown that has been engineered by the extreme right-wing. While the Biden administration and House and Senate leadership reached a budget deal earlier this Summer, some conservatives will no longer vote in support of the deal, and are now holding our government hostage by blocking the passage of crucial funding bills.
Congress cannot let these extremists thrust our economy into chaos, plunge millions of Americans into unemployment and poverty, and deprive children and our most vulnerable populations of vital services and resources. With the September 30th deadline to avoid a government shutdown rapidly approaching, I stand united with my progressive colleagues in our desire to pass a bipartisan government funding bill to keep government open.
I've been hearing from so many of you asking about the impacts of a shutdown, and I wanted to share our most frequently asked questions with you. You can also find a detailed description of how specific federal agencies will be affected here.
Will I continue to receive my Social Security and SSI checks?
Recipients will continue to receive their Social Security and SSI checks. The Social Security Administration (SSA) will provide limited services like issuing Social Security cards and holding appointments for benefit applications. However, SSA will stop services like benefit verifications and processing overpayments. Customer service wait times will dramatically increase.
Will Medicare and Medicaid benefits be affected?
Current Medicare, Medicaid, and disability insurance beneficiaries will continue to receive their benefits assuming a shutdown lasts less than three months.
What will happen to student loan assistance and federal Head Start programs?
The U.S. Department of Education has stated that student aid and loan programs could be disrupted, including processing Free Applications for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) applications, disbursing Pell Grants and Federal Direct Student Loans and servicing Federal student loans. Thousands of children across the country would lose access to Head Start programs.
Which federal employees keep working during a government shutdown?
When the government shuts down, federal agencies are required to classify their employees whose salaries have lapsed as either "excepted" or "not excepted." The employees classified as "excepted" work without pay during the shutdown. The employees classified as "not excepted" are put on unpaid furlough.
Will air travel be affected?
Air traffic controllers, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers, and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents will remain on the job without pay. If some do not report to work, as has happened in prior shutdowns, there will be significant delays and longer wait times across the country.
How does this affect passports and help for Americans overseas?
Consular services, passport services, and visa services are expected to continue in the immediate aftermath of a government shutdown. In a prolonged shutdown, passport and visa issuance could be slowed. Access to passport agencies located in some government buildings may be limited.
What does this mean for disaster relief efforts?
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) staff will still respond to emergencies, but all long-term projects will be delayed due to a lack of funding in the Disaster Relief Fund.
How will this affect environmental protection and cleanup?
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will stop inspecting most hazardous waste sites, as well as drinking water and chemical facilities. Efforts to address dangerous contaminants like PFAS — which are linked to severe health effects, including cancer — will be delayed, and cleanup activities at Superfund sites will slow or cease.
What is the impact on food assistance?
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) will quickly run out of funding and be unable to provide food for children and parents in need. In the case of a prolonged shutdown, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits may also be affected.
What is the impact on food safety activities?
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) food safety activities — such as routine inspections of facilities — will be delayed across the country.
What is the impact on housing?
The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) will stop insuring some new mortgages and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will stop processing some new loans. The Department of Agriculture (USDA) will stop new loan and loan guarantee activity. The VA will continue to guarantee home loans. Funding for federal housing assistance programs, such as Housing Choice Vouchers, may be jeopardized in a prolonged shutdown.
How will this affect small businesses?
The Small Business Administration (SBA) will stop processing new business loans, such as through the 7(a) and 504 programs. However, SBA’s Disaster Loan Program will continue regular operations.
Will my mail still arrive?
Yes. The U.S. Postal Service is not affected by a shutdown.
What is the impact on U.S. military personnel and federal law enforcement?
All active-duty and Guard and Reservists on active-duty orders are excepted and therefore are required to work without pay. On-base non-acute health care will cease, although off-base care provided through Tricare will not be affected. On-base child care will be open on a case-by-case basis. Federal law enforcement will also be required to work without pay for the duration of a shutdown.
What happens to veterans' services?
All Veterans Affairs (VA) medical facilities and clinics will remain operational. The VA will continue to process veterans’ benefits. However, veterans will be affected by the shutdown of other services that they count on, including education and job training, support for veteran-owned businesses, and even assistance for homeless veterans.
Will military and federal retiree benefits be suspended?
Military and federal retirees will continue to receive their retirement benefits. Processing new applications or other requested changes will be delayed.
What does this mean for medical research?
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) will be forced to delay new clinical trials. New patients who are waiting for a chance at new treatment through a clinical trial will be turned away.
Will I still be able to visit National Parks and monuments?
Across the country, services that require National Park Service staff — including trash removal and operating campgrounds and concessions — may be stopped. Closures will be determined on a location-by-location basis; open-air parks and monuments in Washington, D.C. will likely remain accessible. Smithsonian museums may also be impacted by a lengthy shutdown.
What is the impact on state and local services?
The federal government shutdown will not immediately affect any state or local services. However, with federal funding cut off, some state or local governments may have to change their operations. Check with state and local agencies for specific questions.
Throughout a shutdown, my Manhattan and Washington, DC offices will remain open and ready to assist you with any questions you might have, although we may not be able to get answers from federal agencies that have been shuttered.
I hope you find this update on my work for you helpful. To receive more updates like these, click here to sign up. If I can be of assistance with a federal issue or any other matter of concern, please email me here or call one of my offices listed below.
Member of Congress