With a possible government shutdown now only days away, federal departments have begun planning to wind down nonessential functions.
On Monday, Congress returned facing an Oct. 1 deadline to avoid a government shutdown.
If they’re not successful, various services Americans rely on would grind to a halt.
“We’re all nervous here,” said Illinois Rep. Sean Casten. “We’re five days away from this shutdown and we still don’t know whether we have language we can vote on the floor.”
In a shutdown, hundreds of thousands of federal employees, including 43,000 in Illinois, would be furloughed or forced to work without pay. This includes active-duty military and federal law enforcement.
TSA personnel and air traffic controllers will be on the job, but reduced staffing could cause significant airport delays.
Although outbreak response and labs will remain open, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that other public health activities will function at a reduced capacity.
Workplace safety inspections would be limited and fewer food safety and water inspections.
In a potential knock to the economy, loan approvals for small businesses and permitting for construction projects could be paused.
“If you have a student that’s applying to college this year, you’re probably trying to figure out what your financial aid is – that program shuts down almost immediately,” Casten said. “Suppose that you depend on food assistance or Section 8 housing vouchers, those programs have some money left in them, but once that money runs out, there’s nothing more than until Congress authorizes.”
Also, many Illinois schools balance their budget using federal dollars. That money dries up if the government shuts down.
In Washington, both parties expect Congress to miss the deadline. The Republican-led House of Representatives has failed to reach a consensus on a short-term funding measure, with ultraconservatives demanding sweeping spending cuts.
“We’re sticking to our guns and all of a sudden, we’re the bad guys because we want to balance the budget,” said Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN) on CNN’s State of the Union. “Imagine that we come to Washington, we represent our constituents, we say what we’re going to do and then we come to Washington and do it.”
At the center of the fight is House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who Democrats say is in danger of losing his job.
“Their intention is to create chaos, protect Donald Trump, and remove him from leadership,” said Illinois Rep. Delia Ramirez.
People may not realize that Americans get a bill when the government shuts down. The bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimates that the last three government shutdowns cost taxpayers nearly $4 billion.