Status of a possible government shutdown and how it could affect your family

Editor's note: This page is the news on a potential government shutdown from Tuesday, Sept. 26. For the latest updates on Congress' attempts to avoid a government shutdown and what one could mean to you, follow our live updates for Wednesday, Sept. 27.

WASHINGTON−The country is four days away from a federal government shutdown that could impact millions of Americans, as infighting among House Republicans has so far prevented Congress from passing spending bills.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is looking for progress this week as the lower chamber tries to move a series of appropriations bills that ultimately determine the budget for the federal government. A deal must be reached this week to avoid an Oct. 1 shutdown.

Meanwhile, the Senate is trying to move a continuing resolution, a stopgap spending bill that would temporarily fund federal agencies for another 45 days and avoid a shutdown.

But it would come with a potential risk to McCarthy, who has hardline conservatives in the House calling for his removal if he works with Democrats or passes a continuing resolution.

Here's what it means for you.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., talks to reporters as Congress returns to work in crisis mode days before a government shutdown, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023. McCarthy faces an insurgency from hard-right Republicans eager to slash spending even if it means closing federal offices to millions of Americans. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

If there is a government shutdown, will Social Security be paid?

Social Security recipients will continue to receive checks in the event of a government shutdown and Medicare benefits will not be interrupted.

However, employees in the Social Security Administration are likely to be furloughed and government food assistance benefits could see delay.

A few services that are not directly related to Social Security payment benefits and direct-service operations would be temporarily suspended.

Marina Pitofsky and Sudiksha Kochi

How does the government shutdown affect me?

You don’t have to live in Washington for a government shutdown to affect you.

If lawmakers can’t reach a compromise to keep the government’s doors open, shutdowns have wide-ranging impacts for Americans. The Food and Drug Administration may have to delay some nonessential food safety inspections, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration could also limit their work.

Food assistance programs could also see delays, and people who need to travel across the country and around the world could see disruptions to air travel.

And a government shutdown may impact students ranging from preschoolers to college grads. Ten thousand kids could lose access to Head Start care programs, and some student loan borrowers could see disruptions.

– Marina Pitofsky

McCarthy says House may vote on temporary solution Friday

McCarthy on Tuesday night said the House will look to pass their version of a stopgap measure with border security provisions toward the end of the week.

"We will move a continuing resolution, bring a rule to the floor to secure our border and keep government open,” he said.

The House speaker said regardless if the continuing resolution has enough votes to pass, the lower chamber will hold a vote on the stopgap measure with border security provisions. This will likely fall on Friday, he said.

“I want to keep the government open. I want to do the job,” he said.

− Rachel Looker

When would a government shutdown start?

A government shutdown would start Sunday if lawmakers cannot pass a federal budget or stopgap measure by Sept. 30.

The stopgap, known as a continuing resolution, would prevent an Oct. 1 shutdown by temporarily extending government funding.

−Savannah Kuchar

Why would there be a government shutdown?

Hold off on placing any bets. If lawmakers in the House and Senate can reach a compromise  by Sept. 30 on a dozen bills that would fund the government, a shutdown is off the table. Congress could also pass a temporary measure to keep the government funded, known as a continuing resolution.

But both of those options are unlikely as of Tuesday morning. Lawmakers haven’t agreed on one of the 12 bills they would need to pass, and a group of conservative House Republicans have insisted on hardline spending cuts that have no chance of passing in the Senate, which is currently controlled by Democrats.

Last week, House Democrats and moderate Republicans appeared to start working on a fallback plan, but it’s not clear the rare bipartisan push would receive enough support to dodge a shutdown.

– Marina Pitofsky

Senate's continuing resolution would fund government through Nov. 17

The Senate’s continuing resolution released Tuesday evening funds the government through Nov. 17.

Some of the funding listed in the package includes:

  • $4.5 billion allocated to Ukraine

  • $6 billion in emergency funding to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the Disaster Relief Fund

  • $2.9 billion for Federal Aviation Administration operations

Senators are voting Tuesday evening on the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization bill, which will be used as the vehicle to pass the stopgap measure if it passes in the upper chamber.

− Rachel Looker

House GOP says Senate CR is dead on arrival

Shortly after the Senate released its bipartisan version of a short-term stopgap measure to avert a government shutdown, House conservatives said the bill is dead on arrival in the lower chamber. Any spending package, they say, has to include border security provisions.“If you want to continue federal spending, then you have to secure the border,” Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., an ultra-conservative lawmaker and key negotiator in the House. “That is a position in the House that in my view, the members are not gonna yield.”Rep. Garrett Graves, R-La., a close McCarthy ally, echoed similar sentiments and told reporters House GOP lawmakers are “focused on leveraging this moment right now to force the White House into closing the border.”– Ken Tran

Conservative hardliners say no to any stopgap measure to avert a shutdown

As the country barrels towards a shutdown with limited time remaining for Congress to pass a funding package, the only likely resolution to avert a government shutdown is for lawmakers to pass a short-term stopgap bill – called a continuing resolution – to keep the lights on while lawmakers hammer out a deal.

But conservative hardliners, who have impeded McCarthy’s attempts to pass spending bills in demand for deep spending cuts, say they will not vote for a continuing resolution under any circumstances.

“I think that we can’t continue to do DC’s status quo and expect we’re gonna get some type of change and reform,” Rep. Cory Mills, R-Fla., told reporters Thursday, emphasizing he would not support a stopgap measure on the House floor.

“I’ll stay here late. I’ll stay here until two in the morning. I’ll work on Saturdays and I’ll work on Sundays,” Rep. Andy Ogles, R-Tenn., said, pushing for Congress to focus its work on the 12 appropriations bills needed to avert a shutdown.

− Ken Tran

White House calls on House GOP to pass stopgap measure

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre called on House Republicans to join the Senate in passing a continuing resolution, according to a statement Tuesday evening.“House Republicans should join the Senate in doing their job, stop playing political games with peoples’ lives, and abide by the bipartisan deal two-thirds of them voted for in May,” she said.- Rachel Looker

Republican senators have mixed response to stopgap measure

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said Tuesday evening he plans to move to advance the Senate’s continuing resolution.

“Most of us came here to legislate,” he told reporters. “The power of the purse is Congress’s most important power, but it’s a situation we find ourselves in habitually these government shutdowns.”

Others favor passing spending bills themselves over a stopgap measure.

“I don’t think we ought to be passing the CR. I think we ought to take up and pass appropriations bills and we need to rein in some of this out of control spending that is driving rampant inflation that is hurting Texans and Americans,” Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said.

South Dakota Republican Sen. Mikes Rounds said he thinks the upper chamber will be able to pass the remaining spending bills in the next six weeks with the extension in the stopgap measure.

“I think it sends a powerful message to investors if they recognize that we’re actually doing our job, even if we’re a little bit late in getting it done,” Rounds said.

But the South Dakota lawmaker said regardless of the Senate's efforts, he is still anticipating a shutdown.

“And I’m sorry to say that. I would hope that cooler heads will prevail, but at this point we have to be prepared for any short-term shutdown,” he said.

− Rachel Looker

Do national parks close in a government shutdown? 

It depends on the park. During previous shutdowns, some national parks closed entirely, while others remained technically open but without staff to maintain them

Some fell into disarray, with trash piling up and toilets overflowing.

But some park service employees, such as emergency medical personnel, would still be on the job during a government shutdown. However, services could be disrupted.

– Zach Wichter and Nathan Diller

Schumer: ‘The Senate will move forward first’

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Tuesday afternoon Senate Democrats and Republicans have worked together to move forward with a continuing resolution, a stopgap measure that will keep the government funded beyond Sept. 30.

“This C.R. is a bridge, not a final destination. It will help us achieve our immediate and necessary goal of avoiding a government shutdown and move us away from the senseless and aimless extremism that has dominated the House so we can get to work on appropriations,” Schumer said on the Senate floor.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., urged his colleagues to support the stopgap measure.

“Congress needs to extend government funding by the end of this week,” McConnell said.

Schumer said the upper chamber will hold its first procedural vote to move forward with a stopgap measure this evening.

- Rachel Looker

What is a continuing resolution?

A continuing resolution is a stopgap measure that extends last year's spending levels for a designated period of time.

Questions remain as to what a stopgap could look like, or for how long it would extend spending levels.

Previous stopgap measures have extended funding to the end of the calendar year, but McCarthy has hinted at a shorter, one-month extension.

−Rachel Looker

Does Congress get paid during a shutdown?

Members of Congress will still get paid during a government shutdown. Some lawmakers however, have introduced bills in the past to withhold pay for lawmakers during a shutdown. Rep. Angie Craig, D-Minn., introduced legislation doing just that last Wednesday.

“I’m introducing legislation to block Member pay during a McCarthy shutdown, because it’s ridiculous that we still get paid while folks like TSA workers are asked to work without a paycheck,” Craig said in a statement.

Their staffers however, will not receive pay. Like other federal employees, Congressional staffers and aides considered essential work without pay and receive their paychecks retroactively after the shutdown ends.

− Ken Tran

What's a government shutdown?

A government shutdown means all federal agencies and services officials don’t deem “essential” have to stop their work and close their doors.

Some of those essential services include the U.S. Postal Service delivering mail and people receiving Medicare and Social Security benefits. Those will continue whether or not the government shuts down.

But so-called “non-essential” work can still have significant impacts for federal employees and Americans across the country. Thousands of federal workers would be furloughed, government food assistance benefits could be delayed and some food safety inspections could also be put on pause.

– Marina Pitofsky  

What happens when the government shuts down?

In a government shutdown, all federal agencies that are not "essential" — think U.S. Postal Service, Medicare and Social Security — would stop work.

This means thousands of federal employees would be on furlough and Americans would go without government benefits such as food and housing support.

Air travel will be generally spared: Air traffic controllers and TSA agents will continue working, though without pay. Travelers may also contend with longer wait times and flight delays.

− Savannah Kuchar

Military pay could dry up during shutdown: Pentagon

Military pay for millions of active-duty service members and reservists could dry up with a government shutdown – a major difference between the current threatened shutdown and previous recent suspensions of non-essential spending.

“Military personnel will not be paid until such time as Congress appropriates funds available to compensate them for this period of service,” the Defense Department said in a September memo to Pentagon leaders preparing for a potential lapse in spending.

But the department said personnel would continue working regardless. Federal workers are traditionally reimbursed for lapses in funding once Congress agrees to resume spending, but the lapse in paychecks can be difficult for staffers without savings.

“Military personnel on active duty, including reserve component personnel on Federal active duty, will continue to report for duty and carry out assigned duties,” the department said in a Sept. 12 announcement in preparation for a shutdown.

The government has about 1.3 million active-duty service members and 800,000 reservists.

−Bart Jansen

Why would this looming government shutdown be different for the military?

During three temporary shutdowns – in late 1995 into early 1996, 2013 and late 2018 and early 2019 – military salaries were paid during the broader lapses because military spending legislation was approved separate from overall government spending, according to a report by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service.

For example, just before the 2013 shutdown began Congress approved legislation Sept. 30 to protect military pay and President Barack Obama signed it. The Pay Our Military Act covered pay and allowances for active-duty military and reservists, according to the report.

On Sept. 28, 2018, President Donald Trump signed a spending bill that included the Defense Department, which covered the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines, according to the report.

But funding for the Coast Guard dried up Dec. 21, 2018, for the 35-day shutdown because the agency is funded under the Department of Homeland Security, the report said.

The Republican-led House considered voting on a defense spending bill earlier this month, but couldn’t agree on the rules for how to debate the measure amid opposition from renegade GOP members and Democrats.

−Bart Jansen

How does a government shutdown affect the stock market?

A government shutdown isn't likely to help the stock market, investment experts say, but it probably won't hurt much.

Stocks are already down on the month, partly in anticipation of a potential shutdown. The benchmark S&P 500 has fallen more than 5% in September, from 4,508 to 4,274.

"You're seeing it right now," said Jeffrey A. Hirsch, CEO of Hirsch Holdings and editor-in-chief of the Stock Trader's Almanac. "There are a lot of things going on right now, and the government shutdown is one of those straws."

September is also a historically weak month for stocks, and the threat of a shutdown is but one of several factors dragging markets this month, Hirsch said.

But history suggests the market will ultimately recover.

"Historically, the market has pretty much ignored government shutdowns," said Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA Research.

"There have been 20 since 1976, and whether you look at the week before the shutdown, the day before the shutdown, or the entire duration of the average nine-day shutdown, the market has gone nowhere, essentially."

In other words, Stovall said, the looming shutdown is "more of  a headline event than a bottom-line event." Past shutdowns, Stovall said, left "angered tourists more than disappointed traders."

Daniel de Vise

Will the government shutdown affect VA disability payments?

U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough said during a press conference last week that veterans' benefits will be available during the shutdown, including compensation, pension, education and housing benefits.  This includes disability payments.

After previous shutdowns, the Veterans Affairs lobbied Congress to fund the department “on a two-year budget cycle that exempts the department,” according to

In the appropriations bill passed last year, it notes that funding for the Veterans Benefits Administration and the Veterans Health Administration “shall become available on October 1, 2023, to remain available until expended.”

−Sudiksha Kochi

How long would the government shutdown last?

Government funding is set to expire on Oct. 1. How long a potential shutdown will last depends on how soon the House and Senate are able to pass a new appropriations plan that President Joe Biden signs.

The length of past government shutdowns have varied, lasting from five days to 21 days.

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-FL., said on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures” that if the departments of Labor and Education "have to shut down for a few days as we get their appropriations in line, that’s certainly not something that is optimal.”

“But I think it’s better than continuing on the current path we are to America’s financial ruin,” Gaetz said.

−Sudiksha Kochi

What was the longest government shutdown in U.S. history?

The longest government shutdown lasted for 35 days from late 2018 to early 2019 under the Trump administration. It went into effect after the House and Senate failed to reach a compromise on a short-term funding plan to keep the government running through early next year.

The critical issue was that Senate Democrats opposed President Donald Trump’s $5.7 billion request for building a wall on the southern border.

Before that, the longest government shutdown lasted from Dec. 5, 1995, to Jan. 6, 1996,  when Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Democratic President Bill Clinton faced off over taxes.

- Sudiksha Kochi and John Fritze

Moody's says a government shutdown could hurt U.S. credit rating

The country’s credit rating could face additional pressure if the government shuts down next week, according to a new report from Moody’s Investors Service.

While a short-lived shutdown would not impact government debt service payments and isn’t expected to disrupt the economy, Moody's said it would “underscore the weakness” of U.S. institutional and governance strength compared to countries with similar credit ratings.

“In particular, it would demonstrate the significant constraints that intensifying political polarization put on fiscal policymaking at a time of declining fiscal strength,” Moody's report reads.

If the potential shutdown does drag on, it would "likely be disruptive both to the US economy and financial markets," although Moody's notes that any government shutdown is more likely to be brief and concentrated in areas with a large government presence, like Washington, D.C.

Bailey Schulz

Would a government shutdown impact travel?

The deepest impact would not be on your flight or cruise.

Funding to agencies like the Federal Aviation Administration, Transportation Security Administration and Customs and Border Protection would be on hold. However, the agents who you typically interact with at airports and seaports, and the controllers who oversee your flights are considered essential and will be working without pay during the shutdown.

Impacts on those agencies have more to do with things like hiring and training. All the crucial safety functions like inspections and air traffic control continue.

Consular operations in the U.S. and internationally will also continue normally “as long as there are sufficient fees” collected to support them, according to the most recent guidance from the State Department. “This includes passports, visas, and assisting U.S. citizens abroad.”

There could be economic repercussions, though. A government shutdown is estimated to cost the country's travel economy as much as $140 million per day, according to an analysis for the U.S. Travel Association.

− Zach Wichter and Nathan Diller

What does a government shutdown mean for Medicare?

Medicare benefits will continue, though there could be a delay in some payments.

The benefits are considered among essential services, along with U.S. mail delivery, air travel, Amtrak, Social Security payments and more.

-Candy Woodall

What agencies are affected by a government shutdown?

All agencies could be affected by a government shutdown.

From the Department of Homeland Security to the Department of Agriculture, each agency will have a plan to stop its nonessential functions, and hundreds of thousands of federal employees will be furloughed.

Agencies also rely on each other during a shutdown. For example, the State Department’s U.S. Passport Agency will remain open during a government shutdown, so you should be able to get a passport if you need one. But if passport services are offered in a building near you that’s run by an agency that has shut down, you could have to look elsewhere.

– Marina Pitofsky

Does a government shutdown affect federal retirees?

A government shutdown would have major consequences for hundreds of thousands of federal employees, but federal retirees will receive payments if lawmakers fail to keep the government open.

These retirement payments are one of several functions that won’t stop during a government shutdown, alongside Social Security and Medicare benefits.

Employees ranging from air traffic controllers to emergency personnel in national parks will also stay on the job, whether or not the government shuts down.

– Marina Pitofsky

What will not be impacted by a government shutdown?  

President Joe Biden and members of Congress will continue to work and get paid, but their staff members who aren’t considered “essential” will be furloughed. The Supreme Court will also stay open, but federal courts could have to scale back functionality.

But what does essential mean? Think employees such as air traffic controllers and law enforcement officers. U.S. embassies and consulates would likely stay open, and you should still be able to get a passport and visa.

If you’re planning a trip to Washington D.C. or a National Park, monuments and other areas will likely stay open. However, maintenance of those areas may be delayed or canceled altogether.

And as the holidays approach, a government shutdown also likely won't impact NORAD's beloved Santa Tracker.

– Marina Pitofsky

Will a government shutdown affect state employees?

A shutdown could impact state employees whose employers depend on federal funds to operate and must shut down certain activities that the government has deemed non-necessary.

In this case, certain state employees could be furloughed until a shutdown passes.

But state employees who receive salaries from private employers who do not rely on federal funds wouldn’t necessarily be impacted.

-Sudiksha Kochi

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Government shutdown explained: Here's what it means for you