What You Need To Know About a Government Shutdown

By: Clinton Barney

Unless you’ve been living under a rock or completely ignoring the news lately, you may have heard about a government shutdown once or twice, or maybe 20,000 times. The government has been flip-flopping between staying open and shutting down for the past few weeks now. The government had a brief shutdown on Thursday night, nearly a month after it temporarily closed its doors for a long, debated weekend.

A government shutdown does not mean that the government stops functioning, or that the president loses his job, or anything along those lines. A shutdown is a very important issue that affects many Americans, no matter what age or race.

What is a government shutdown?

The Washington Post says a government shutdown is “exactly what it sounds like,” when the federal government does not have enough money to either keep federal services open or pay their workers.

How does a government shutdown happen?

A shutdown happens when Congress can’t decide on a budget, or how much money should be distributed among the federal government.

What happens during a shutdown?

Like I said earlier, part of the federal government basically closes its doors, since they aren’t receiving money. They are forced to shut down some of the services and programs that receive federal money.

What stays open and what closes?

The government keeps open what NPR calls “essential” services, such as the military, Social Security, mail delivery, air traffic and court systems. Hospitals and emergency services are funded by the states, so those stay open. Nonessential services like national parks, museums and some federal offices are forced to close their doors. However, the Trump Administration is working to keep national parks open due to the public’s backlash during the 2013 shutdown according to Mother Nature Network. Forbes reports that the IRS will also have to shut down some of its programs, but yes, people will still have to pay their taxes.

Who is affected?

Even though those essential federal services will stay open, those workers, such as military personnel and mail deliverers, will not be getting paid. They are being furloughed, which means they are on forced leave for the time being. Some are required to stay at work but still receive no pay. This chart from the Washington Post shows how many workers are being furloughed per federal department:

Congress and the President still earn their salaries though due to Constitutional law.

Yeah, but does it affect me as a high schooler?

Unless your parent is a federal worker or is stationed at Luke Air Force base, you won’t be affected that much. However, if you are on your way to college, you may face some difficulties.

Remember what I said about non-essential services being affected? Well guess what one of those services are: the Department of Education, where federal financial aid comes from. The Department of Education stated in their Contingency Plan that students should expect a “delay” in their federal aid “for some short period of time” in the case of a shutdown. It is also mentioned that the flow of money to schools could be limited during a shutdown as well.

Should I be worried about the shutdown after all?gov_shutdown

To be straightforward, no, you shouldn’t worry about the shutdown. A lot of the federal institutions have a safety plan just in case the government cannot aid them anymore, so they can function on their own for some time. Also, the shutdowns rarely last for long, so its consequences aren’t severe. It does hurt the economy in a way, but not enough to pull your money out of the bank. Especially being a young adult or high schooler, it hardly affects you. Even if you are applying for financial aid, your chances at money aren’t damaged. It all depends on how long the shutdown lasts for, like which I said, usually is not long at all.