WASHINGTON — Funding to keep the federal lights on will run out at midnight on Friday unless Congress passes a new spending bill and President Trump signs it into law.
If negotiations collapse, most federal agencies would close and hundreds of thousands government workers would be furloughed. But not every part of the government would shutter.
Federal workers deemed “essential” would stay on the job and key government functions — such as national security operations and law enforcement work — remain up and running.
Federal agencies have some leeway in deciding how to carry out a shutdown, but based on previous spending stalemates, here's what you can expect:
Will troops get paid?
President Trump said in a tweet on Tuesday that the “biggest loser” in a government shutdown would be the military. It’s a talking point used by many congressional Republicans hoping to put Democrats on the spot by saying a shutdown would mean the troops don’t get paid.
But the military gets paid on the 1st and 15th of every month. So the troops just received a paycheck, and they wouldn’t be due for another one until Feb. 1.
That means military personnel would not suffer a lapse in pay unless a government shutdown lasted until the end of the month — or longer.
While active duty military personnel will continue going to work, most civilian Department of Defense employees not deemed essential would be furloughed, said Christopher Sherwood, a Pentagon spokesman.
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.
Will lawmakers 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 they needed to write laws, help them vote, or communicate with their constituents. That gives members of Congress quite a bit of leeway.
Will I still be able to get a passport? And what about the National Parks, monuments, and Smithsonian museums?
If you need a new passport, you might want to put in your request in now. The State Department's passport services are 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 the stalemate drags on, your application could be delayed.
And you'll be out of luck if you’re upcoming vacation plans include a stop at any National Park or other treasured federal site — whether that’s the Statue of Liberty in New York, the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., or Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. All of those taxpayer-funded sites would be closed during a shutdown.
During some past shutdowns, however, some states have paid to keep their national parks open.
Will travel be affected?
Probably not. Airports would remain open and air traffic controllers and Transportation Security Administration officials would remain on the job. However, there could be some delays as "non-essential" employees are furloughed. You should also still be able to travel by train. Even though Amtrak depends on federal subsidies, it also gets revenue from ticket sales and has managed to stay open during past shutdowns.