What is Government Shutdown in the US? Know What is Open And What Stay Closed?

Government Shutdown in US: The United States is likely to face a government down on October 1, 2023. If Congress fails to provide funding for the fiscal year, many U.S. government services will be disrupted and hundreds of thousands of federal workers will be furloughed without pay. This is going to be the 11th major shutdown since 1980.

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What is a Government Shutdown?

A shutdown happens when Congress fails to pass some type of funding legislation that is signed into law by the president. Lawmakers(Congress) are supposed to pass 12 different spending bills to fund agencies across the government. When no funding legislation is enacted, federal agencies stop all non-essential work and do not send paychecks as long as the shutdown lasts.

What Is Open And What Is Closed During The US ShutDown?

While government shutdowns prior to the 1995–1996 shutdowns had very mild effects, a full federal government shutdown caused a large number of civilian federal employees to be furloughed. According to the report of Reuters, the impact on departments are:


  • The 800,000 civilian workers at the Pentagon would be furloughed, while the 2 million U.S. military members would stay at their stations. 
  • The Pentagon would be able to place fresh orders for the supplies or services required to maintain national security along with the contracts already granted prior to the closure.
  • Other new contracts, such as extensions or renewals, wouldn’t be granted. 
  • Payments to defence contractors like Raytheon (RTX.N), Boeing (BA.N), and Lockheed Martin (LMT.N) may be postponed. 

Law Enforcement

  • The FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and other federal law enforcement agencies would continue to employ agents, and prison staff members would continue to work, according to the Justice Department’s 2021 contingency plan. 
  • Criminal investigations would continue, including the two federal cases against former president Donald Trump.
  • The majority of civil lawsuits would be postponed. Grants and assistance to regional police forces can be postponed. 
  • According to the Department of Homeland Security’s 2022 plan, border patrol and immigration enforcement agents, as well as customs officers, will continue to work.
  • Likewise, the Secret Service and Coast Guard would continue their missions.
  • The majority of the Federal Trade Commission’s consumer protection staffers as well as half of its antitrust staff members would be placed on a break.
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Federal Courts

Federal courts have enough money to stay open until at least Oct. 13. Activities might be scaled back after that point. The Supreme Court would stay open as well.


  • Lawmakers continue to collect paychecks, even as other federal workers do not. 
  • Staffers do not get paid, though those deemed essential would be required to work.

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  • According to recent contingency plans, airport security screeners and air traffic control employees would be forced to work, however, absenteeism could be an issue. 
  • Training for new air traffic controllers would stop.
  • According to the White House, the disruption of environmental evaluations and permitting might cause delays in some significant infrastructure projects.

Foreign Affairs

  • U.S. embassies and consulates would remain open under the State Department’s 2022 shutdown plan. 
  • U.S. embassies and consulates will operate as usual.
  • Processing of passports and visas will continue as long as there is enough money to cover costs. 
  • Nonessential official travel, speeches and other events would be avoided.
  • No funds will be provided for foreign aid programs.

National Parks And Natural Resources

  • The Government shutdown’s impact on national parks, national monuments and other sites is uncertain.
  • Wildfire fighting efforts would continue, according to the Agriculture Department’s 2020 contingency plan, though timber sales on national forest lands would be curtailed and fewer recreation permits would be issued.


The Smithsonian museums that line the National Mall would close, as would the National Zoo. That would bring a premature end to the Zoo’s farewell celebration for its three giant pandas, which are due to return to China.


Scientific research would be disrupted.

The International Space Station and satellite tracking would still be supported by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), but 17,000 of its 18,300 employees would be placed on furlough. 

The management of fisheries and weather forecasts would continue normally.

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New medications and medical technologies would continue to be tested.

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Disease outbreaks will be monitored but public health activities could suffer.

The National Institutes of Health would furlough most of its staff.

New clinical trials for medical treatments will be kept to a halt.

All healthcare services for veterans and Native Americans would be active. 

Food safety inspections by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) could be delayed.

Financial Regulation

  • The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) will lay off around 90% of its staff. 
  • The Commodities and Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) would suspend oversight, enforcement, and regulation, as stated in its 2021 plan.
  • The Federal Reserve, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency would continue to operate as usual.

Economic Data

The publication of major U.S. economic data, including employment and inflation reports of critical importance to policymakers and investors, would be suspended, according to the Biden administration.

Social Security, Medicare And Other Benefits

  • Retirement and disability benefits and payments would continue under the Medicare and Medicaid health programs.
  • As per the 2021 contingency plan, the military veterans program will continue.
  • Any special mother and child care will be paused.
  • The supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program would be affected after October.

Tax Collection

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) would operate as normal, and all 83,000 employees would continue to be paid because the agency’s funding would not expire.

Disaster Response

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) would risk running out of funds for disaster relief and long-term recovery projects.


Pell Grants and student loans would continue to be paid but can be delayed.

A protracted shutdown could “severely curtail” aid to schools, universities and other educational institutions, the department says. 

The funds for the upcoming years will also get delayed.


The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would continue to operate locks, dams and flood control facilities. Most employees would not be furloughed.

Child Care

According to the White House, 10,000 children from low-income families would lose access to the Head Start preschool program.

Small Business Support

The Small Business Administration would not be able to issue any new loans, though loans for businesses hurt by natural disasters would continue.


Meat and egg inspections would continue.

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 Some lab services would be disrupted.

Crop insurance would not be affected, however, loan programs may face some delays.

Research, conservation and rural development programs would be shut down.


Workplace safety inspections would be limited and investigations into unfair pay practices would be suspended, according to the White House.

National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) would furlough almost all of its 1,200 employees, according to a 2022 plan.

White House

The White House furloughed 1,100 out of 1,800 employees in the Executive Office of the President during the 2018–2019 government shutdown. 

While some organizations, like the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), were drastically reduced in size, others, like the National Security Council, remained operating at full capacity. 

Mail Delivery

The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) would be unaffected as it does not depend on Congress for funding.

When would a shutdown begin and how long will it last?

If the government funding expires, a shutdown will effectively begin at 12:01 a.m., October 1. However, it is quite difficult to predict the duration of the shutdown. 

There have been 10 Government shutdowns with major funding gaps. The longest shutdown, which lasted 35 days from 2018 to 2019, was caused by a disagreement over funding for new barriers along the border between the United States and Mexico. Other notable shutdowns include the 21-day one in 1995–1996 under the Bill Clinton administration over opposition to significant spending cuts, the 16-day one in 2013, under Barack Obama, and the one that lasted 16 days in 2013.

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