Government shutdown: What you need to know

Published 11:08 am Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The federal government has entered into its first shutdown in the past 17 years, leaving some federal workers on leave and agencies closed until Congress passes a spending bill.

The shutdown began Tuesday and will continue until Congress passes a bill.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a spending bill that included measures to keep the government open, but failed to fund the Affordable Care Act, better known as ObamaCare.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D- Nev., refused to budge saying he and his fellow senators “will not go to conference with a gun to our head.”

The Senate rejected the measure 54-46.

Rep. Martha Roby, R-Ala., said Monday night, “tonight the House again acted to keep the government open and to protect the American people from the harmful and unfair effects of ObamaCare.”

“The legislation we passed in the House would do three things,” she said. “First, it would avoid a government shutdown. Second, it would delay the onerous individual mandate, which empowers the federal government to force everyday working Americans to purchase pre-approved insurance plans in order to avoid a government fine. The president has already approved a similar one-year delay for businesses. And, third, the bill would repeal special health care subsidies for members of Congress and congressional staff. These provisions are all based on a simple principle: equality under the law.”

Roby called the House’s plan a commonsense package.

“Acting on this commonsense package would avoid a shutdown and promote fairness,” she said. “However, the Senate once again dismissed the House-passed legislation, opting to risk a government shutdown in order to protect special privileges for those in Washington.”

Federal agency websites like the USDA were shutdown as well Tuesday. A message on the USDA website said, “Due to lapse in federal government funding, this website is not available. After funding has been restored, please allow some time for this website to become available again.”

A similar message was found on the Department of Justice website, which warned that information would not be updated routinely, transactions submitted may not be processes and the department may not be able to respond to inquires.

Here’s what local residents can expect:

• Mail routes will continue since no tax dollars are spent for day-to-day operations at the U.S. Postal Service;

• Those receiving Social Security, Medicare and unemployment benefits can expect to receive theirs. A delay could be seen for those with new disability applications.

• WIC could be faced with shut down. This program is designed to provide supplemental food, nutrition education and health care referrals for pregnant women, children and mothers.

• Programs such as free and reduced lunches and breakfasts at schools will continue, as will the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, also known as food stamps.

• Though the IRS is shut down, Americans are still required to pay their taxes and file their tax returns. The IRS will suspend its audits.

• Those seeking government-insured mortgages can expect delays. Federal officials say the Federal Housing Administration would approve with delays single-family loans; multi-family approvals will be suspended. Additionally, small business loans are suspended.

• The National Weather Service and the National Hurricane Center will continue to provide citizens with up-to-date weather information.