What to Expect If Government Shuts Down

Mail and Social Security checks would be OK, and maybe the national parks on a limited basis
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 19, 2018 10:44 AM CST
Updated Jan 19, 2018 3:10 PM CST
What to Expect in a Government Shutdown
The Capitol in Washington is seen Friday morning.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

(Newser) – The looming government shutdown has had one tangible effect so far: President Trump has put plans for a trip to his Florida Mar-a-Lago resort on hold, reports NBC News. "The President will not be going to Florida until the CR passes," the White House said, referring to a continuing resolution to keep the government open before a midnight deadline arrives. However, the likelihood of a deal shrank even more on Friday when Trump and Sen. Chuck Schumer failed to strike an agreement at an afternoon White House meeting, reports USA Today. Trump had been planning to leave Friday to attend an anniversary bash on Saturday at Mar-a-Lago, a celebration of his first year in office, reports Bloomberg. More on the shutdown, and its potential effects on everyday life:

  • Prospects: Things are "dicey at best" in terms of a deal, with Politico seeing a "seemingly intractable impasse" in the Senate. One huge sticking point is that Democrats want any spending plan to include protections for about 700,000 young "Dreamer" immigrants. Still, talks were continuing, and it's possible the Senate could take some kind of action Friday to avoid the shutdown, if only for the short term.
  • The effects: You'll still get mail if the government shuts down, and Social Security recipients will still get their checks. Air traffic controllers and the TSA would stay on the job, so air travel shouldn't be greatly affected, explains USA Today. But services deemed "non-essential" would suffer—for example, those waiting on a passport might be out of luck. The AP has a video primer.

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  • The furloughs: An estimated 850,000 "non-essential" federal workers can expect to be furloughed, per the Week; the Washington Post has a detailed breakdown. Of note: Military operations and national security wouldn't be affected, though civilian Pentagon workers would likely be sent home.
  • National parks: Stay tuned. Typically, they close during shutdowns, but the Trump administration is working on a plan to keep them open, if on a limited basis, reports CNN. People might be able to visit, for example, but not camp overnight.
  • Blame game: Trump and Republicans were aggressively trying to pin the blame for any shutdown on Democrats. "Democrats are needed if it is to pass in the Senate - but they want illegal immigration and weak borders," Trump tweeted Friday. "Shutdown coming? We need more Republican victories in 2018!" Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan also went after Democrats, with McConnell saying their "fixation on illegal immigration" will be to blame, reports the AP.
  • The winner? Paul Kane at the Washington Post ponders which side would prevail in the "court of public opinion" and finds that it would boil down to a messaging game. If Democrats can make any shutdown "about Trump and his ability to govern," they'll triumph. "If Republicans can make it about immigration, the victory is probably theirs." A poll by ABC News and the Washington Post is good news for Democrats: 48% say they'd blame Trump and Republicans for a shutdown, 28% blame Democrats, and 18% blame both sides equally.
  • The factions: It's not just Democrats who would prevent the Senate from getting the necessary 60 votes on a plan, and the New York Times lays out the various factions at play. At least three Republicans are in the "no" camp as well.
(Read more government shutdown stories.)

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