The government officially shut down as of midnight, Oct. 1, 2013. At this time, hundreds of thousands of federal workers were forced to be furloughed (placed on temporary, unpaid leave).
But why did the government shut down?
Congress failed to pass spending bills that would fund the government. Because it did not do this, many functions of the government will not be able to continue to function. The underlying reason behind the inability to pass spending bills, stems from the House Republicans, who are still attempting to stop Obamacare. Although Obamacare is not directly related to government funding, it is being used to bargain.
But what does this mean for our everyday lives?
Here's a short list of what we can and can't do:
We still can:
- Get help from 911: Emergency services and disaster assistance will continue to run as normal
- Send and receive mail from the USPS: The employees of the United States Postal Service will continue work.
- Get Social Security and disability benefits: Some payments may be delayed, but overall, payments will still be issued.
- Get a passport: The Bureau of Consular Affairs is funded by fees (not by appropriated funds) it will continue to operate but some are located in federal buildings, be sure to check with your local passport office before visiting.
- Get your trash picked up
- Be paid if you are in the U.S. military: Congress approved the Pay Our Military Act, which will ensure that troops will still be paid on time. The military's 1.4 million personnel will remain on duty.
- Receive healthcare benefits, even if you are furloughed
- Ride Amtrak, Metrorail and Metrobus
- Travel by air
- Safely eat meat: The USDA will continue to inspect and report to work because they are essential to public safety.
- Get unemployment checks: But some payments may be delayed because of the reduction in the workforce.
- Go to the DMV: The DMV is a state-run facility
- Visit state and county parks: Only federal run parks will be shut down.
- Get food stamps
But there are still many things you won't be able to do…
- Apply for Social Security or Medicare benefits: A reduction in staff will prevent new applications to be processed, although current benefits will be sent out.
- Get a new small business loan
- Visit the Capitol: The Capitol will be open for congressional matters, but will not be open to visitors.
- Visit or camp in a national park: Parks like Yosemite will be closed and its visitors will be instructed to leave immediately.
- Visit any of Washington, D.C's monuments: Because they are under the control of the National Parks Service, which will be shut down, they will not allow visitors into popular monuments like the Lincoln and World War II memorials.
- Continue to be audited: Because the IRS is funded by the federal government, they will suspend their current audit activities and will resume again when the government shutdown is over.
The last time the government shut down was in 1995, which lasted 21 days.