WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — There’s a potential government shutdown looming on the horizon that could impact federal workers and more — both in the DMV and across the nation.
Government funding expires on Oct. 1. If Congress does not pass a funding plan before that, the shutdown will be effective starting at 12:01 a.m. There’s no way to predict how long a shutdown would last.
“When no funding legislation is enacted, federal agencies have to stop all nonessential work and will not send paychecks as long as the shutdown lasts,” the Associated Press reported.
Any essential workers — including air traffic controllers and law enforcement — still have to work. Other federal employees would be furloughed. A law passed in 2019 requires that those workers receive backpay once the shutdown ends.
The last government shutdown started in December 2018 and lasted until January 2019, the longest shutdown in U.S. history.
Who would a shutdown affect?
There are millions of federal employees who have paychecks delayed in the case of a government shutdown. The Associated Press said that this includes around “2 million military personnel and more than 2 million civilian workers.”
Even if you’re not a federal employee, you may still feel the repercussions of a shutdown. Federal services — such as getting a passport or firearm permit — may also see delays.
The White House said that there are also “nearly 7 million women and children who rely on the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)” who would be affected by the shutdown.
According to the White House, the federal contingency fund would be dried up after just a few days, and many states have limited WIC funds to continue operating the program. Once that funding runs out, the White House said that “women and children who count on WIC would soon start being turned away at grocery store counters.”
White House data said that D.C. has 11,718 total WIC recipients; Maryland has 123,101 and Virginia has 127,124. West Virginia also has 37,292.
Federal offices across the nation may see limited hours or have to close, and national parks may partially or entirely close.
In D.C., all of the Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo will likely close during a shutdown.
Additionally, while airports will stay open, there may be delays — Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents and air traffic controllers are still assigned to work, but they are asked to do so without pay. During the previous shutdown, some agents started calling out of work, leading to short staffing, closed security gates and longer lines.
Other businesses may also be affected — a 2023 study from Goldman Sachs said that in a survey, 70 percent of small business owners said their businesses would be negatively impacted by a shutdown.
This stemmed from several reasons — some rely on Small Business Administration services (such as loans and support), some were federal contractors or subcontractors, some had customers who are government employees and some said there would be less customer demand because of overall economic uncertainty.
What resources are there?
The D.C. government has a website with resources for federal workers during a government shutdown.
Area food banks and other organizations pitched in for food assistance to affected workers.
D.C. also said that anyone impacted by the shutdown should immediately contact any lenders, credit cards, student loan servicers or insurance companies — many will waive late fees and other penalties.
Some banks and credit unions also offered low or no-interest loans.
More financial resources as well as information about D.C.’s Mortage Assistance Program was posted on the website.
You can also file for unemployment — the D.C. government reported that during the previous shutdown, over 10,000 people (federal workers and contractors) filed for unemployment benefits in the District.