Funding to keep the federal government up and running will run out at midnight Friday unless Congress passes a new spending bill and President Trump signs it into law.
If they fail, the result would be a partial government shutdown in which most services would stop except those deemed "essential" — such as national security work performed by the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI. Active duty military personnel would not be furloughed, but roughly 40% of non-defense employees would be.
Active duty military personnel would not be furloughed, but roughly 40% of non-defense employees would be.
Every shutdown is different because federal agencies have quite a bit of leeway in deciding how to carry it out. But, based on previous shutdowns, here's what you can expect:
1. Will my mail stop
No. The U.S. Postal Service is an independent agency that does not receive tax dollars to operate. It is funded through the sale of stamps and other products and services.
2. Will I still get my Social Security benefits?
Yes. Social Security is a mandatory program that will continue even if Congress fails to pass a spending bill.
3. What about that tax refund I'm counting on?
It could be delayed. However, the IRS will continue collecting taxes, so a shutdown won't get you off the hook for paying what you owe.
4. Will I still get food stamps?
Yes. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a mandatory entitlement program that is not dependent on annual spending bills.
5. Will my child still get a free lunch at school?
Yes, as long as the shutdown doesn't last too long. In the past, federal officials have estimated that most school districts had enough money to continue providing free lunches to eligible students for about a month.
6. What about my summer vacation? Will I still be able to get a passport?
Maybe, but don't count on it. The State Department's passport service is funded partly by fees, which means it is not completely dependent on Congress for money and may be able to continue to issue passports for at least a short time. But if you need a new passport, act fast.
7. Will I still be able to visit a national park or monument?
No. During past shutdowns, the National Park Service has had to close its parks and historic sites, which range from the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona to the Statue of Liberty National Monument in New York Harbor.
8. Will the Smithsonian museums in Washington, D.C., be closed?
Yes. These popular, admission-free museums are paid for by federal tax dollars and would be closed during a shutdown. They include the National Air and Space Museum, the National Museum of American History, the new National Museum of African American History and Culture and the National Zoo, which is famous for its pandas.
9. Will a shutdown affect air travel?
Not dramatically. Airports would remain open and air traffic controllers and Transportation Safety Administration security officials would remain on the job. However, there could be some delays as "non-essential" employees are furloughed.
10. What about Amtrak?
You should still be able to travel by rail. Although Amtrak depends on federal subsidies, it gets much of its revenue from ticket sales and has managed to stay open during past shutdowns.
11. Will members of Congress close their offices?
It depends. In the past, individual members of Congress have reacted differently, with some closing their district offices and others leaving them open. During previous shutdowns, lawmakers were advised that they did not have to furlough aides that they needed to write laws, help them vote, or communicate with their constituents. That gives members of Congress quite a bit of leeway.
12. Will federal courts be closed?
Not immediately, but they could be closed if a shutdown lasts more than 10 days, according to past guidance.