Government shutdown looms

Published 11:15 pm Thursday, April 7, 2011

With a possible federal government shutdown looming, many people may be wondering how it will affect their lives.

If Congress does not approve a spending bill by midnight Friday, many military personnel might not get paid, new applications for Social Security, passports and other services may not get processed, national parks might shut down, and more.

Mail delivery will not end, said Fran Sansone, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Postal Service.

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“The postal service is self-funded, so we’re not involved in any government shutdown,” Sansone said.

City government services would not be affected, city spokeswoman Debbie George said. The only ramifications the city might see would be delayed reimbursement of some grants, she said.

According to Congressman Randy Forbes, some military personnel — including those currently deployed to war zones — still would be required to work, but would not be paid unless Congress agrees to fund the military separately from the regular budget. Forbes co-sponsored the Ensuring Pay for Our Military Act (H.R. 1297) to ensure people serving in the military would be paid, but the bill still is in a House subcommittee.

Military personnel and other federal government employees who must continue working without pay would be paid as soon as a spending bill is passed, Forbes’ website said.

Also according to Forbes’ website, Social Security, disability and unemployment benefits would continue to be paid, but new applications would be delayed. Welfare programs such as Temporary Assistance to Needy Families would likely continue to be paid.

Forbes said it is not clear how programs such as Section 8 and food stamps would be affected.

Tax refund checks that have not yet been issued could be delayed. Taxpayers who do not receive their checks within 45 days are entitled to receive interest from the federal government.

The federal courts should continue to operate, although some personnel like interpreters and librarians would be employed only if necessary and juror pay would be delayed, Forbes’ website said.

Students who receive free or reduced-price lunches at school would continue to receive lunch.

For more information about the shutdown, visit