WASHINGTON - What does a government shutdown actually look like? Who keeps working and who goes home? And how does it affect you?
Social Security checks will still go out while troops will remain at their posts. Virtually every essential government agency – like the FBI or Border Patrol – will remain open.
Rules in place since the 1980s dictate that federal workers are exempted from furloughs if their jobs are national security-related or if they perform essential activities that "protect life and property.”
The Coast Guard, Postal Service, FEMA, Transportation Security Administration along with other agencies that handle air traffic control, food inspection, Medicare and veterans' health care will all be operational.
Fewer than half of two million federal workers would be furloughed. But that still leaves hundreds of thousands of workers forced off the job.
“I’m here until late already as it is,” explained Mandi Tuttle, a federal employee who said she is worried about the possibility of a shutdown. “The work doesn’t stop. We continue to have to do the work no matter after we are shut down. We are just going to have to get caught up. We are trying to be optimistic and hoping for the best so that we continue doing what we are doing. But we are planning and preparing if it doesn’t go that way. We will keep the lights on somehow.”
So what does close? Non-essential jobs at places like museums, monuments and national parks. Some congressional offices could also shutter and federal courts will begin to pause operations if the shutdown lasts longer than 10 days.
Workers forced off the job are not paid for unfunded days although they often get retroactive pay.
But what does that mean in terms of money lost? The shutdown in 2013 resulted in 850,000 employees furloughed, which came to $2.5 billion in lost productivity, pay and benefits for employees.
It feels like shutdowns have been happening more, but it is nothing new. Presidents Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton and Obama have all had shutdowns during their tenures. In fact, Carter had five and Reagan had eight.