Here’s the truth about a government “shutdown.” The government doesn’t shut down.
So the world won’t end if a dysfunctional Washington can’t find a way to pass a funding bill before the new budget year begins on Oct. 1.
Social Security checks will still go out.Troops will remain at their posts. Doctors and hospitals will get their Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements. In fact, virtually every essential government agency, like the FBI, the Border Patrol and the Coast Guard, will remain open. Furloughed federal workers probably would get paid, eventually. Transportation Security Administration officers would continue to man airport checkpoints.
The air traffic control system, food inspection, Medicare, veterans’ health care and many other essential government programs would run as usual. The Social Security Administration would not only send out benefits but would continue to take applications. The Postal Service, which is self-funded, would keep delivering the mail. The Federal Emergency Management Agency could continue to respond to disasters at the height of hurricane season.
The Washington Monument would be closed. But it’s been closed anyway since an earthquake in 2011.
Museums along the National Mall would close, too. National parks would be closed to visitors, a loss often emphasized in shutdown discussions.
The Capitol would remain open, however. Congress is deemed essential, despite its abysmal poll ratings.
From a practical perspective, shutdowns usually aren’t that big a deal. They happened every year when Jimmy Carter was president, averaging 11 days each. During President Reagan’s two terms, there were six shutdowns, typically just one or two days apiece. Deals got cut. Everybody moved on.