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Government-Shutdown1Several federal agencies may shut down at midnight if an agreement is not reached by lawmakers. You may be wondering why this is happening and what does it mean for the nation. Well, here’s the low-down on how a government shutdown would impact your life.

Each year, Congress is required to approve laws that provide funding for federal agencies. These “laws” are known as appropriations. Unfortunately, Congress failed to pass appropriations this past fiscal year and a battle between Republicans and Democrats over the Obama administration’s new healthcare law is delaying any action from taking place to keep the government running.

If the government shuts down, several of the federally operated places that we love (or hate) to visit and services that we need to survive will no longer function or be severely delayed. This includes national parks, IRS call centers, passport processing, and trash collection. Additionally, federal employees will be furloughed — meaning that they will not be paid during the shutdown. Essential-service employees, such as postal workers and food inspectors, will continue to report to work. Social Security and Medicare programs will not be affected.

The resulting economic impact depends greatly on the length of the shutdown. If Congress gets its act together soon, then the shutdown will only last for a few days and the impact would be small. However, with time the economic strength that the nation has gained slowly since the recession could be severely affected if the shutdown lasts for a while. This would be the first time in 17 years that the federal government would have to shut down because of party disputes.

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