[UPDATE] What Does a Government Shutdown Mean For You?

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[UPDATE] 4-8 10:27am -- WASHINGTON (AP) --

The top Democrat in the Senate says the White House and Republicans have agreed on a spending cut of $38 billion
but a fight over federal dollars for Planned Parenthood is blocking
a deal.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada told reporters
Friday he's cautiously optimistic after late night talks at the
White House, but the budget dispute also has become a moving

Failure to reach an agreement moved the government closer to a
shutdown at midnight Friday.

Reid criticized the Republican stand on Planned Parenthood. The
GOP contends it has not reached an agreement on spending cuts.


[UPDATE] 4-6 2:51pm --

What Does a Government Shutdown Mean For You?

Federal employees

In the event of a shutdown, the federal government does not actually stop functioning entirely: activities and employees deemed "excepted" (in 1995, the terminology used was "essential") to keeping the nation safe and operational continue to perform. Congress, along with President Obama, presidential appointees and specific judicial employees, are deemed "excepted" and not subject to furlough. Even those excepted federal employees, however, do not get paid until after the government resumes operations.

According to a senior administration official who spoke to reporters in a Wednesday conference call, about 800,000 employees were affected by the shutdown in the government shutdown of 1995 - and a similar number of workers would likely be impacted were the government to close this week.

So how do you know who keeps working and who goes home?

Employers decide who is "excepted" and who gets furloughed - and the latter characterization could fall to any number of the 1.9 million civilian government employees. Plus, according to the Washington Post, "any workers scheduled to take paid leave would not be able to, and some would be eligible for unemployment benefits if a shutdown continued for more than a few days.

Whether or not the furloughed staffers would get paid remains to be seen: they'd only receive back pay if Congress later passed a provision approving it - something that could take months and which may or may not happen.

Additionally, a recent report from Roll Call indicates that some Congress members plan to limit their furloughs and keep their entire staffs at work.

Government services


Social Security: Social Security recipients would be largely unaffected by a shutdown, according to the administration official. Checks for seniors, those with disabilities, and survivors would go out as usual. But Social Security Administration employees could face furloughs, but the agency is still finalizing its plan.


Homeland Security: Critical functions, like border control, would continue.

Mail delivery: The U.S. Postal Service is owned by the government but self-funded - so operations would continue uninterrupted.

Air traffic control: As a function of maintaining public safety, Air traffic control would be exempt from a shutdown.

Food inspection: Meat and poultry testing would likely continue, in accordance with federal mandates that those activities deemed "essential to ensure continued public health or safety" continue.

National parks and monuments: As the New York Times puts it, "The National Zoo would close, but the lions and tigers would get fed." National parks and museums, including those on the National Mall, like the Smithsonian, would shut down - just in time for spring break.

Passport operations: All operations would be likely suspended, except for in cases of emergency.

International Revenue Services (IRS): The IRs would close, but the April tax deadline would stay in place - so Americans would still have to pay their taxes on time. But according to the senior administration official, the processing of paper tax returns (which accounts for about 30 percent of all returns) would be suspended - as would refunds associated with those returns.

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA): The SBA, which is dedicated to supporting small businesses, would suspend approval of applications for business loan guarantees, as well as direct loans to small businesses.

The Federal Housing Association (FHA): The FHA would be forced to suspend approvals for new loan guarantees during peak home-buying season, according to the administration official.

Medicare: According to the administration official, Medicare is funded for the short-term - and would likely remain unaffected unless the government were to remain closed for a period of months or more. NIH, however, will not be able to accept new patients or begin new clinical trials.

The Military

Uniformed military personnel would continue to serve, but they would not get paid for their work until the government reopened. (Troops would get one week, not two weeks, pay in their next check, as the shutdown would go into effect in the middle of a pay cycle.) And a number of Pentagon civilians, State Department officials and USAID staff would likely be furloughed.

Veterans services will largely go uninterrupted, as the Veterans Administration receives its yearly appropriation in advance and thus has the money to fund services for the rest of the year.


[UPDATE] 4-6 2:45 PM -- FAIRLESS HILLS, Pa. (AP) --

President Barack Obama is warning that a government shutdown would hurt typical families and halt the recovery of the American economy.

Speaking at an event outside Philadelphia, Obama admonished
lawmakers in a budget battle to "act like adults." Trying to
pressure Republican House members, he insisted the White House has compromised and called on GOP lawmakers to do the same. He compared the relationship to a marriage and said his opponents can't simply get their way.

Said the president: "That's not how it works."

He said a shutdown would keep businesses from getting loans and
prevent families from being able to tour national parks.

Obama revealed no details on the budget talks as a deadline

Some government services will shut down Saturday if a deal isn't
reached by Friday.


[UPDATE] 4-4 9:52 PM --

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Republican officials say GOP lawmakers are
ready with another short-term spending bill if needed to avoid a government shutdown threatened for Friday.

These officials say a bill to finance the government for one week will be brought to the House floor if currently deadlocked talks on a longer-term measure fail to yield a compromise.

They add the stopgap bill would include about $12 billion in cuts in domestic programs, and include enough money to finance the Defense Department through the end of the budget year on Sept. 30.

The current talks are hung up on Republican demands for deeper spending cuts than either the Obama administration or Senate Democrats want.

President Barack Obama has invited top lawmakers to the White House for a meeting Tuesday on the issue.


Washington D.C. - April 4, 2011 -

The federal government is headed for another potential shutdown -- unless lawmakers strike a spending deal by the end of this week.
In the past few months Congress has approved two short term extensions. The one thing both sides agree on is that -- 'now' they need a bill to fund the government through September.

U.S. Senator Harry Reid says, " This is more than numbers. This involves people."

Republicans and Democrats appear to be inching towards a compromise that would slash 33-billion dollars from the budget for the rest of this year. But -- not everybody's happy. GOP lawmakers backed by the Tea Party say, those cuts just aren't deep enough.

Republicans insist the biggest threat to the country is the deficit and now is the time to get serious about cutting spending. But, Democrats warn cutting too deep could put the nation's economic recovery in jeopardy.

Reid says, "This bill did such mean-spirited thing, not to cut the debt by send an ideological message."

U.S. Sen. Lindsay Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, says "We're trying to reduce spending, and our democratic friends are hanging on to old ideas that every time you try to reduce spending, you're being cruel and mean."

Neither side wants the blame for a government shutdown so they are expected to reach a deal. But, the fight doesn't stop there. Once this year's budget is finished, they'll tackle next year's. Tomorrow Republicans will unveil their plan for 2012. They say their proposal
will cut almost 4 trillion dollars from the deficit over ten years and make some big changes to Medicare so the debate over spending is far from over.

If the government 'does' shut down on Friday -- not every service would stop in its tracks. Contingency plans keep several essential agencies up and running - like the military, law enforcement agencies, and air traffic controllers.

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