The prospect of a government shutdown is weighing heavily on Republican congressional leaders this week, as Congress has to pass spending legislation in the next five days in order to avoid one. As some branches of the government are funded until later in 2019, though, Congress is currently only risking a partial government shutdown — so it's only natural to be wondering what a partial government shutdown actually is, and how it would affect you.
Seventy-five percent of the federal government is all set for funding through September 2019, as CNN wrote. The potential partial government shutdown, then, would only affect the remaining 25 percent. According to McClatchy's DC Bureau, though, that affects numerous significant departments within the federal government, including the Departments of State, Interior, Treasury, and even Homeland Security. As usual in a government shutdown, employees considered "essential" will still have to report to work, but all others would be furloughed, or told to stay home without pay. As WPXI News wrote, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) workers and air traffic controllers are examples of essential employees of the Department of Homeland Security who will have to remain on the job, government shutdown or no.
Allowances like these mean that most people may not notice the potential government shutdown even if it does happen, according to McClatchy. For the government employees whose departments fall under the shutdown, however, it's a different story.
As ABC News explained, those TSA officials and air traffic controllers — among the many other essential employees — would be working without pay over the holidays. Their paychecks would come later, once Congress passed a spending bill. All in all, even just this partial government shutdown would affect 420,000 "essential" federal employees from the departments in question. And according to NPR, there are another 380,000 federal employees who would be furloughed in the case of a partial government shutdown. While Congress has passed legislation in the past to pay employees who were furloughed during previous government shutdowns, there's no guarantee that that would happen again.
Between the departments that are already funded and the employees who will be working anyway, life will go on as normal for most Americans. There are a few things you might notice, though, as NPR noted. If you've got plans to go to a national park and the shutdown happens, then you'll have to make do without the help of the National Park Service employees at the park's visitor center, for example, and there are some national monuments that you won't be able to visit at all.
Voice of America listed a few other things that would go undone during the potential partial government shutdown, like the processing of tax returns at the IRS and health safety checks from the Food and Drug Administration. Overall, though, unless you're a government employee, the news surrounding the shutdown is likely the most that you'll experience of it. Even a partial government shutdown, however, represents a complete failure of the government to work as it should.