After weeks of uncertainty, by Thursday, a partial government shutdown over Christmas appeared imminent. The White House said early Thursday that President Trump won't sign legislation averting a shutdown unless it includes funding for a border wall, which Democrats have refused to budge on. With that in mind, you might be wondering how a partial government shutdown will affect you. Unfortunately, every government shutdown is its own unique phenomenon, and how agencies and institutions respond largely has to do with how much money each has on hand at the time.
But while there are many uncertainties, there are a few things we know almost for sure. For one, mail and package delivery should not be impacted. This is because, according to USA Today, the Postal Service is an independent agency. The service's daily operations are not directly funded by taxpayer dollars, as radio station WHIO reported ahead of a shutdown earlier this year.
Similarly, air traffic control officials, as well as Customs and Border Patrol officials, will all be expected to report to work, USA Today reports. And Amtrak, although it is government owned, is independently managed, meaning that its trains, too, should be operating as normal. All of this is to say that while the latest government shutdown might go into effect just before the busy holiday season, most travel should not be directly affected.
In fact, many government agencies will not be immediately affected by the partial shutdown, according to analyses released ahead of time. As much as 75 percent of the government's budgets are already approved, NPR reports. But the outlet states that the remaining quarter of the government, which has not secured funding, could cause some upset for those planning to take advantage its services within the next week or so.
Among those, according to NPR, are the National Park Service and the Departments of Interior, Agriculture, Justice, Transportation, Commerce, and Housing and Urban Development. Independent agencies such as the FDA and NASA, NPR reports, will also be shut down.
Whether or not employees from any of the affected agencies will be expected to report for work depends on whether or not they are considered essential. Law enforcement officers from the FBI, the TSA, and Border Patrol, for example, are considered "essential" and will be on the job. Whether or not they'll be getting paid on time is another story — their paychecks may well be delayed, NPR reports.
In the same vein, some agencies that will not technically have adequate funding to maintain normal, daily operations may still keep their doors partially open. For example, many National Parks Service locations may still be open, but their visitor centers may be closed, according to NPR.
When it comes to a partial government shutdown, its relative immediate impact depends on where the agencies are in their budgeting process. And whether individual agencies will be open can be tricky to pin down until the government does, in fact, shut down.
How quickly the government will reopen is not immediately clear, as the president and Congress remain deadlocked in a fight over funding a border wall. President Trump has changed his mind several times over the past few days on how his border wall should be funded, including demanding $5 billion from Congress for it.
Unless Trump and Congress can come to an agreement before midnight on Friday, when funding runs out, the government will likely shut down.