Sorry, We're Closed: What the Government Shutdown Means to You

Spending Showdown
AP
A government shutdown is looming: Barring an act of God, at midnight Monday, the federal government will, to some extent, close up shop. While an endless array of websites have endlessly pored over the finer points of this little bit of horrifyingly bad governance, here's a quick rundown of who is going to go to work Tuesday, who is going to stay home, and how the looming shutdown affects you.

Who's Going to Work

Basically, anyone who defends the country, processes payments that people need to live, or is paid through independent funding is going to work tomorrow. This includes (among others):
  • Members of the military
  • Air traffic controllers
  • People who work on the power grid
  • Federal guards
  • People working for social security, welfare, and other benefit programs
  • Mail carriers
  • Emergency medical care workers
  • Food inspectors
  • Border patrol officers
  • Prison guards
  • Members of Congress
  • The President
These people might not get paychecks during the shutdown (although the military probably will -- a quick bill to ensure that passed with bipartisan support late Monday), but they will likely get paid retroactively when the crisis is over.

Who Might Be Staying Home

People who aren't on that list -- basically, 1.2 million "non-essential" workers -- could be staying home. These include Congressional staffers and White House staffers -- in other words, most of the people who work for elected officials but weren't themselves elected.

For that matter, all non-essential personnel such as park rangers, museum workers, most bureaucrats and, frankly, almost everyone in Washington, D.C., will stay home. Washington's mayor has been working to have most D.C. employees declared essential workers, which would keep the city's police on the streets and its sanitation workers in their trucks.

How the Shutdown Will Affect You

If you were planning to make use of the federal government this week, things aren't looking so good. Here are some of the things you probably won't be able to do this week:
  • Get a firearms permit
  • Verify the immigration status of any of your employees
  • Get a replacement Social Security card
  • Get a new passport
  • Get any new veteran or Social Security benefit requests processed
  • Go to a national park
  • Go to a federally-funded museum
  • Apply to take part in any new federally funded clinical studies
  • Rely on the CDC to track any new flu outbreaks
  • Get a federally-guaranteed new home loan
In short, if you've ever wondered about the impact that the federal government has on your day-to-day life, this promises to be a very interesting and informative week.

Bruce Watson is DailyFinance's Savings Editor. You can reach him by e-mail at bruce.watson@teamaol.com, or follow him on Twitter at @bruce1971.

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