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Imminent Federal Shutdown: What will be Impacted?


Unless a legislative miracle reverses the trajectory towards a shutdown of the federal government on Saturday at midnight there will be serious repercussions. The shutdown will affect those that are most in need of support and with the least political influence.


In the absence of statesmanship, moral courage, pragmatism and sheer patriotism the House has stumbled towards the deadline without concern for the consequences. Those whom we send to Congress and entrust with the management of the nation have precipitated a potential wave of hardship and inconvenience affecting us all. In an interview one holdout acknowledged that most Americans were living from paycheck to paycheck but failed to comprehend that a shutdown would deprive the military and essential workers of pay. He condoned this by stating that they would eventually receive back pay. His illogical standpoint is especially galling given that he will be receiving his Congressional salary and benefits.

Failure to compromise and to recognize the harm and inconvenience to both workers and users of government services is inexcusable. Unless a continuing resolution is passed as in previous years, many government functions will cease with considerable disruption to essential services.


Some of the impacts will include:-


  • Suspension of benefits to seven million mothers and 39 percent of U.S. infants under the Special Supplementary Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC).


  • Essential services will continue but the government employees and service people responsible will not be paid.  Active-duty U.S. military personnel will continue to serve at their posts but civilian employees will be furloughed.  The FBI, DEA, Secret Service and federal prison employees will continue to work without pay. Criminal cases will continue although civil litigation would be deferred.

  • Farmers will not be able to obtain services from the USDA as FHA offices will be closed.


  • The Department of Homeland Security will continue to provide essential activities including border control and airport security screening but at a lower level of efficiency due to sick-outs and demotivation. 


  • The Department of Transportation will maintain air traffic control but delays will occur with protest and stress-induced absences.


  • The USDA will cease all research activities, disrupting or terminating experiments in progress and delaying publication of results. Diagnostic services by NVSL will be delayed, if it all available, with a slow recovery as the backlog is processed.


  •  Reports from the ERS, FAS and NASS that form the basis of agribusiness decisions on trading and investment will be terminated for then duration of the shutdown. Weekly and monthly statistical postings on both EGG-NEWS and CHICK-NEWS will be curtailed. 


  • Research and related activities at the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will almost completely cease as the majority of employees are subject to furlough.  Activities at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will continue in the areas relating to ongoing outbreaks, but research and non-essential functions will be halted for the duration of a shutdown. 


  • Regulatory agencies including the FTC and SEC will only respond to emergencies with most employees standing down.  The Federal Reserve will continue operations.


  • Meat inspection by FSIS will continue and AMS will maintain egg inspections in plants as these activities are supported by user fees.



  • An important consideration at a time of increased union militancy is that the National Labor Relations Board will not be able to participate in mediation of labor disputes. 


  • The U.S. Postal Service that is mostly self-funded and will continue operation but the Agency is dependent on periodic Congressional infusions of working capital.


In decades to come political scientists will study and publish on how our Nation, with the largest economy in the world and as the leading democracy became the thrall of a handful of extremist members of the House exercising their own narrow political agenda and protecting their prospects for reelection, only to gain a pyrrhic victory. To avert the annual exercise in continuing resolutions that simply kick the can representing the budget further down the road there will have to be procedural changes especially in the House. With competent leadership it should be possible for two parties, even with polarization, to negotiate in good faith and to exercise compromise early enough in the fiscal year to reach agreement on required services and level of spending. We deserve better from our incumbent legislators.