WJTV News Channel 12 - Government Shutdown: What does it mean?

Government Shutdown: What does it mean?

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It's been 17 years since the United States Federal Government faced a partial shutdown because of disagreements in Congress over spending bills. You sent in questions and WSLS checked to find out more about the potential government shutdown and how it will or will not affect your everyday life.

Cause:
Many of you want to know what causes a shutdown like this. Under the Constitution, congress must pass laws to spend money. If they can't agree and come to a decision, the government does not have the authority to spend the money.

Mail:
The U.S. Postal Service will remain open since it functions as an independent business unit.

National Parks:
One big change you will see is national parks closing immediately. This includes the Statue of Liberty, Yellowstone Park and many right here in our area- like the Blue Ridge Parkway. As for campers already in the parks, they will be given 48 hours to make other plans before they're forced to leave.

National Museums:
Museums, like the Smithsonian and the National Zoo will close down right away too. However, private museums like the Taubman Museum of Art and the state-run Virginia Museum of Transportation will remain open.

Work Standards:
Laws enforcing wage and hour standards will still be in effect even though the Department's Labor Wage and Hour Division will suspend all operations.

Federal Assistance:
Food stamps will continue since they come from funds that don't expire until next year. WIC, or Women Infants and Children, would lose federal funding and have to rely on whatever state funding may be available.

Social Security:
When it comes to senior citizens and social security, that's considered a mandatory spending program. The people who send those checks will continue working and anyone who receives benefits will continue to.

Airports:
TSA Agents and FAA Air Traffic Controllers are considered "essential personnel." The Roanoke Regional Airport says they're not anticipating any changes to flight service.

Furloughs:
Some federal employees are considered essential, however many are not. Of the 2.5 million federal employees, 800,000 to 1 million will be furloughed.

Active-Duty Military:
All active-duty military are considered essential as well. However, if the shutdown lasts longer than a week, they will be paid for their work at a later date.

If a government shutdown does happen, it would end as soon as President Obama signs a spending bill. In the past, shutdowns like this have lasted an average of about three days, but some have ended within hours.

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