As of September 29, 2:00 pm Central Time, the government shutdown is actually possible. Politicians, experts, strategists, and professors are among those who have been providing different examples of what the shutdown will look like. From unpaid TSA personnel to 19,000 unpaid border agents, this government shutdown isn’t as irrelevant as people may think. Below is a partial list of how we the people will be affected (with sources) by reporting the plans that might be implemented.
Cybersecurity and Physical Security Support to the Nation’s Critical Infrastructure: CISA would also be forced to suspend both physical and cybersecurity assessments for government and industry partners. Perhaps more cyberattacks are in the works now that this deadline is looming and the government shutdown has worldwide coverage.
Disruptions to Air Transportation from Multiple Sides: If you have flights to catch, get ready for some “significant delays” if the government shutdown happens. On average, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screens 2.5 million passengers every day. There is already a pilot and air traffic controller shortage so if the government shuts down there will be fewer people to work these positions. If they are given the opportunity to continue working they would be required to continue working, but without pay.
“CBP agents and officers working at over 300 ports of entry and protecting more than 6,000 miles of border under challenging circumstances would be required to continue performing their vital missions without pay.” This includes issues like securing borders, seizing fentanyl, combating child exploitation, and arresting human traffickers.
About 1.3 Million Active-Duty Service Members Will Serve Without Pay: With the government shutdown, all military personnel will continue in a normal duty status regardless of their affiliation with excepted or non-excepted activities until such time as Congress makes appropriated funds available to compensate them for this period of service.
Hardship for Nearly 40,000 Active Military Personnel: The U.S. Coast Guard may not even be paid for their unpaid work unless a specific appropriation is passed. They are also unique in that they are not allowed to apply for unemployment benefits either. This is not the case for the other military branches. Additionally, unlike civilian employees, they are not able to file for interim support such as unemployment benefits to supplement their income until an appropriation is passed.
Small Business Administration (SBA) to stop processing new business loans for small businesses:
Each weekday the government is shut down, and small business loan applications will be halted, which may cause small business owners to turn to high-interest, price-gouging non-government loans.
Pro-Life? Not After Birth: The Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) nutrition program serves about 50% of babies born in this country and is at risk. Head Start, which supports education for 3- and 4-year-olds across the country, and women and children who count on WIC would soon start being turned away at grocery store counters, with a federal contingency fund drying up after just a few days and many states left with limited WIC funds to operate the program.
Senior citizens may have a hard time getting food too: Meals on Wheels, which brings food to elderly people many of whom can’t drive or go to the store on their own, could also get interrupted.
What is the hold up? The Republicans are demanding that their specific budget cut proposal pass. Members of Congress indicate that this 8% budget cut proposed will result in:
- 800 fewer Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents and officers
- 50,000 pounds of cocaine, more than 300 pounds of fentanyl, more than 700 pounds of heroin, and more than 6,000 pounds of methamphetamine let into our country due to cuts to CBP
- 110,000 children would lose access to Head Start slots
- 65,000 children would lose access to childcare
- 60,000 seniors would be robbed of nutrition services like Meals on Wheels
- 2.1 million women, infants, and children would be waitlisted for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
- Up to 40,000 fewer teachers, aides, or other key staff across the country, affecting 26 million students in schools that teach low-income students and 7.5 million students with disabilities
- Nearly 70 fewer Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) agents, who are often some of the first federal law enforcement on the scene of a mass shooting to help local law enforcement identify at-large shooters—and 13 furlough days for ATF’s entire workforce
- 4,000 fewer rail safety inspection days next year alone, with nearly 11,000 fewer miles of track inspected annually—enough track to cross the United States more than 3 times
- 145 fewer members of local law enforcement due to cuts at the Department of Justice
- Nearly 300,000 households—including 20,000 veterans and 90,000 seniors—would lose housing choice vouchers, putting them at greater risk of homelessness
- A roughly $500 reduction to the maximum Pell Grant for 6.6 million students
- 4,000 fewer FBI personnel, including agents who investigate crimes
- 250,000 American workers would be denied job training and employment services—resulting in 35,000 fewer workers gaining the opportunity of a Registered Apprenticeship
- 50,000 workers would lose an average of $1,000 in back wages they are owed
- People applying for disability benefits would have to wait 2 months longer
A government shutdown should not be a bargaining chip. The congress members still get paid a pretty nice $174,000 salary so they don’t necessarily feel the impact. Maybe it is time to include Congress in one of these categories where if the government shuts down they also have to work for free. Otherwise, there is no urgency to get things done on time, and these elected officials end up harming their constituents and their livelihoods.
Hopefully this article will be irrelevant soon! Congress – do your best.