As GOP lawmakers scramble to find a budget deal, the clock gets closer to a federal government shutdown. Current funding for government services expires on January 19th.

There’s two big things you need to know.

What is a government shutdown?

A shutdown happens when Congress fails to pass funding for government services. Without that funding, almost 40% of the government workforce are placed on an unpaid leave.

Services that are considered “essential” (think the FBI, military services, air traffic control, etc.) continue to work as normal.

How does a shutdown affect me?

It all depends on your interactions with the federal government. Keep in mind this doesn’t affect any services from our state or local governments.

  • National parks, museums, and other public federal sites may be open with smaller staff. Smaller staffs could push maintenance and trash removal to the bottom of their list. If you’re planning to visit a national park, you might want to reschedule your trip.
  • If you applied for a new passport, your application could be delayed.
  • IRS call centers would close, which means delays in getting help with your tax returns.
  • Are you a federal government employee or contractor? You could be placed on unpaid leave until a deal is worked out. When the shutdown ends, you could be paid retrospectively.
  • If you receive a Social Security check, you’ll still get those. Medicare, Medicaid, SNAP, and Affordable Care Act payments will also go out as usual.

Go deeper: Shutdown of the Federal Government: Causes, Processes, and Effects

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