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Government Shutdown

Impact of the Government Shutdown

A government shutdown interrupts some services and can affect more than 800,000 federal workers who are not deemed “essential.” The federal government, however, does not stop functioning completely.  By law, some agencies will continue to operate, including those that deal with national security and the safety of people and property, as well as those that manage retirement benefits such as Social Security payments. The U.S. Postal Service will also be unaffected by a shutdown.

Below you will find more details about specific agencies, their services, and what impact a government shutdown will have on operations.

Links that answer questions regarding all other agencies and federal government operations:

USA Today


Washington Post


Because Social Security benefits are not subject to appropriation, payments to retirees and the disabled will continue uninterrupted. The agency needs to furlough 18,000 staffers, or about 30% of its workforce, however, so it’s closing its card centers. That means it won’t be able to issue new or replacement Social Security cards or to replace Medicare cards. Applications for benefits won’t be affected, the agency says.

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Because Medicare is not subject to appropriations, a shutdown will not affect people receiving benefits.

There should be no immediate impact on enrollees' medical services, though reimbursements to doctors and hospitals could slow down if the contractors that process claims are deemed inessential. Still, doctors and hospitals are not paid every day, so unless a shutdown continued for weeks, the effects would likely be minimal.

A government shutdown would likely affect Social Security disability recipients who are applying for Medicare. By law, Social Security disability recipients must wait two years from the date of their receipt of disability benefits to qualify for Medicare. Delays in decisions caused by the shutdown could have a significant impact on these individuals.

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Will Congressman Thornberry’s staff be available during a government shutdown?

The people of District 13 hired Mac to do a job and expect him and the staff to be available to perform that job.  Therefore, the Congressman’s three offices will be open and operate as normal. 

How did you decide to keep the offices open?

Per the Constitution and current federal law, the service of congressional employees who directly support a Members’ performance of their constitutional responsibilities, including legislative, communications, and administrative duties is required even during a lapse in appropriations.  


The Defense Department would continue to conduct military operations and training exercises.  All 1.4 million active-duty uniformed military personnel would stay on the job.

As for the roughly 800,000 civilian employees, the Pentagon has not yet determined how many would be classified as essential. The most recent time a shutdown loomed, in 2011, about half of the civilians were deemed essential.

All active-duty members are paid on the first and 15th of every month. In the event of a shutdown, they would be paid Oct. 1 for the previous two weeks of work, but the following paycheck would be at risk for delay if the government closure is prolonged.


Medical services offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs would not be affected by a shutdown. Benefits programs would probably be affected. The VA’s regional offices handling disability claims would have limited services, and the Veterans Benefits Administration would be unable to process education and rehabilitation benefits. The Board of Veterans' Appeals would be unable to hold hearings.

The VA projects that 95 percent of its 332,000 employees are exempt from furlough, including the 289,000 employees who work for the Veterans Health Administration.

The department estimates that 14,224 of its employees face furlough, including more than 7,200 who work for the Veterans Benefits Administration, 3,200 IT workers and more than 1,000 who work for the National Cemetery Administration.

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The potential closure of the government would not affect USDA employees engaged in protecting life and property such as Forest Service firefighters and food safety inspectors. USDA’s shutdown plans would keep 87 percent of the 9,633 employees at its Food Safety and Inspection Service, charged with protecting the safety of meat, poultry and eggs, on the job.

A shutdown would halt enrollment in the Conservation Reserve Program, and Farm Service Agency offices would close. A handful of FSA activities deemed essential to protecting property, such as emergency and natural disasters response, would not be affected.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better known as food stamps, is funded through the Recovery Act and the monies do not expire for another year. As a result, the program would be spared during a shutdown.

Schools are reimbursed for lunch and other meal costs on a monthly basis and are allowed to carry over funds from the previous fiscal year. The USDA expects most schools will be able to continue providing meals through October.

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Even during a shutdown, the vast majority of Obamacare provisions and implementation would still continue because the vast majority of funding to implement Obamacare is mandatory or entitlement spending. To change it requires a new law signed by the President. In addition, the imposition of Obamacare taxes, cuts to Medicare, implementation of the health insurance exchanges, and payment of insurance subsidies would all continue.

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