Here Is What Will Happen if Congress Doesn’t Get its Act Together by Monday

This post was written by Igor Volsky

If Congress fails to pass a continuing resolution in six days, the federal government will come to a standstill, shuttering “non-essential” services and operations that are deemed unnecessary for the safety of human life and national security. So while air traffic controllers will keep the planes in the sky, seniors will receive their Medicare and Social Security checks and the unemployed will continue to see benefits, other services will begin to dry up the longer the shutdown continues. Services that are not subject to yearly appropriations–so-called mandatory spending–will continue functioning, and self-funding agencies like the Postal Services could still deliver mail.

But close to a million federal workers performing tasks that are deemed non-essential could be furloughed, leading to delays and shutdowns in the following services:

FINANCIAL SERVICES: The Small Business Administration will stop making loans, federal home loan guarantees will likely go on hold, and students applying for financial aid could also see delays and backlogs in applications.

ARMED FORCES: U.S. troops serving at home and abroad could stop receiving paychecks if the shutdown continues for an extended period, changes of station would also be delayed, and facility and weapons maintenance would be suspended. Families back home would also be impacted.

HEALTH CARE: The National Institute of Health will stop accepting new patients and delay or stop clinical trials. Medicare and the Veterans administration will continue paying out benefits, but new filers could face delays, and doctors and hospitals may also have to wait for reimbursements.

PUBLIC SAFETY: The Environmental Protection Agency would stop reviewing environmental impact statements and food inspectors would stop conducting workplace inspections unless there is an imminent danger. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms could stop processing applications for permits.

SECURITY AND TRAVEL: The Department of Homeland Security would suspend the E-Verify program, which helps businesses determine the eligibility of employees, creating hiring delays. The State Department will also likely halt new passport and visa applications.

PARKS AND RECREATION: The National Park Service sites and the Smithsonian Institution will be shutdown. During the 1990s, 368 sites closed down and approximately 7 million visitors were denied entry.

All this will come at a price. The last two shutdowns during the Clinton era–one lasted six days in 1995 and another stretched 21 days at the end of 1995 and beginning of 1996–cost the country 0.5 percentage points of gross domestic product (GDP) growth and more than $2 billion (in today’s dollars) in unnecessary expenses–as government employees abandoned their jobs to prepare for the shutdown. Economists estimate that were a short-term shutdown to occur next month, it “would do significant economic damage, reducing real GDP by 1.4 percentage points.” A two-month shutdown could “precipitate another recession.”¯

This was was originally published on ThinkProgress.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock


Jim Ven
Jim Ven1 years ago

thanks for the article.

Robert H.
Robert Hamm4 years ago

…………….and so the Government shuts down. Congratuations Repbublican clowns. You should be so proud you are not mature enough to come up with reasoable compromises. We laugh at you like the children you have become.

Darryll Green
Darryll Green4 years ago

President Obama came on national tv and said he wouldn't discuse the debt ceiling with congress, as it stands now this is where our debt is, Foreign governments hold about 46 percent of all U.S. debt held by the public, more than $4.5 trillion. The largest foreign holder of U.S. debt is China, which owns more about $1.2 trillion in bills, notes and bonds, according to the Treasury.

In total, China owns about 8 percent of publicly held U.S. debt. Of all the holders of U.S. debt China is the third-largest, behind only the Social Security Trust Fund's holdings of nearly $3 trillion and the Federal Reserve's nearly $2 trillion holdings in Treasury investments, purchased as part of its quantitative easing program to boost the economy.

Criticism of China Owning U.S. Debt
To put China's ownership of U.S. debt in perspective, its holding of $1.2 trillion is even larger than the amount owned by American households. U.S. citizens hold only about $959 billion in U.S. debt, according to the Federal Reserve. this is the website for this info, yet you cry because the republican party doesn't want an unlimited debt ceiling and guess who will buy the debt.

Fred Hoekstra
Fred Hoekstra4 years ago

Thank you ThinkProgress, for Sharing this!

B J.
BJ J4 years ago

Shame on all our politicians for being the dishonest, lying, greedy, scumbag cheats they are.

Lori Ann Hone
Lori Hone4 years ago

The answer if simple: RECALL ALL REPUBLICANS!

Will Rogers
Will Rogers4 years ago

Voting for politicians instead of policies, that's the mistake. I won't be happy until I see a computer take a politicians job! If we can lose our jobs to computers and mechanisation, why shouldn't they? Some of these parasites have crookedly kept heir jobs for decades! I agree with Marc P, there should be limits set on their terms, 2 term limits, as with the presidents, and they should be held responsible for their actions, which they obviously aren't! The system is broken and needs changing, good luck America on your downward slide.

Karen C.
Karen Chestney4 years ago

We can thank the GOP for all that. Gee don't pay the troops---& those in the war don't even get amo??? or paid---or their families paid??? What kind of "CRAZIES" do we have in congress??? and what kind of NUTS voted them in??? PLEASE-- VOTE DEM. on 2014 !!!

Samuel B.
Samuel B4 years ago

I would have to agree with Marc P. in that I don't understand why the American people continue to put up with the circus that is Congress. Why do we keep re-electing these clowns? Some of them have been in office for decades and most stopped being effective before their second terms ended. All most of them care about anymore is keeping the special interest groups happy so the campaign funds keep flowing and they can keep their jobs. Terms limits should have been implemented for Congress a century ago. If the President is limited to two terms, Senators and Congressmen should be limited as well. Every state needs to enact such limits on its own representatives because Congress will never vote for term limits just as they they never vote against giving themselves raises.

Marc P.
Marc P4 years ago

I just don't understand WHY the American Public is putting up with this bullshit! Congress works for US. they are OUR employees! How DARE they hold Americans hostage to their whims and desires! And how DARE we let them!!! While these politicians destroy our country we stand around like bewildered cattle saying "Oh my! What SHALL we do!!!" No one has the fortitude to say STOP! No one has the guts to march on Washington. No one has the guts to stand up in the face of police beatdowns and pepper spray! The March On Washington occurred 50 years ago on August 28, 1963. The Chicago Riots followed in 1968. Both of those events (And many others) changed the course of history - Though not immediately. Where has our backbone gone? How can we sit idly by and watch these criminals in office destroy our country and do NOTHING???? I don't get it!