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Sunday 5 February 2023 Dublin: -2°C
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# close the doors
What actually shuts down during a US government shutdown?
The US government will shut down unless a deal is agreed by 5am Irish time.

HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of US government defence workers, park rangers and business regulators could be temporarily out of work if Congress fails to pass a budget before a midnight deadline (5am Irish time).

But the looming government shutdown due to lack of funding – which would be the second in five years – does not mean every office closes its doors.

Vital services will still be provided by law enforcement, immigration officers, the central bank, veterans’ hospitals and the military.

During the two-week shutdown in October 2013, around 800,000 workers were furloughed.

This time, about 850,000 workers, out of a total 3.5 million, could be told to stay home – without pay – until Congress reaches an agreement, the American Federation of Government Employees estimates.

The following is a rundown of who is and isn’t affected in a government shutdown:

Defense, security and borders

The 1.5 million uniformed members of the US military, mostly in the Defense Department but also 40,000 with the Department of Homeland Security, will remain at work.

“All military personnel performing active duty will continue in a normal duty status,” the Pentagon ordered yesterday.

But a large number of civilians in both departments, including about three-fourths of the roughly 740,000 civilians who work for the Pentagon, will stay home.

That will slow many operations, and could impact the huge defense private sector, which depends on Pentagon contracts.

Officials of the Customs and Border Patrol, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and US Citizenship and Immigration Services will remain on the job checking and processing people entering the country by land, sea and air.

Key government operations

The White House, Congress, federal courts and the Veterans Administration will all continue to operate. The US Postal Service will continue to deliver the mail.

The investigation by special prosecutor Robert Mueller into possible collusion between Russians and President Donald Trump’s election campaign will remain active.


The US capital is funded by the federal budget and will be affected. Garbage services and street cleaning will halt and libraries will close. But schools and public transport will continue to operate.


The Federal Aviation Administration, which oversees air traffic control, will remain at work, and airports will remain open for travellers.

Parks and museums

According to tentative plans, national parks and museums will remain open, but some public employees at the parks could be furloughed while private contractors, who supply food and other services, will maintain operations.


Disease monitoring and prevention will slow. About 61% of the staff of the Centers for Disease Control will be furloughed, according to The Washington Post, and much of the research-focused National Institutes of Health will be shuttered.

Other public services

Other agencies will largely shut down, including the Internal Revenue Service, the Social Security Administration, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Education, the Commerce Department, the Labor Department, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

That means people and businesses will not get documents and permissions processed, contractors will have difficulty moving ahead on their projects, and disaster relief will slow.

A shutdown plan posted on the Treasury Department’s website shows that nearly 44% of the IRS’ 80,565 employees would be exempt from being furloughed during a shutdown.

That would mean nearly 45,500 IRS employees would be sent home just as the agency is preparing for the start of the tax filing season and ingesting the sweeping changes made by the new GOP tax law.

The Republican architects of the tax law have promised that millions of working Americans will see heftier paychecks next month, with less money withheld by employers in anticipation of lower income taxes. The IRS recently issued new withholding tables for employers.

But Marcus Owens, who for 10 years headed the IRS division dealing with charities and political organisations, said it’s a “virtual certainty” that the larger paychecks will be delayed if there’s a lengthy government shutdown.

© AFP 2018 

With reporting from AP

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