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Government Shutdown FAQ

President Trump's insistence on $5.7 billion in funding for an ineffective, wasteful border wall with Mexico has led to a partial government shutdown. I am working in the House to pass the appropriations bills we need to reopen government so we can have a meaninful debate on immigration and border security. This pointless shutdown is terrible for 800,000 public servants, the Americans who rely on affected services, and the country as a whole. As questions from constituents about the shutdown come in, I will keep this page posted with the latest information. 

Government Services FAQ | Federal Employees FAQ

Government Services FAQ

Which federal departments are affected by the Trump Shutdown?
There are nine federal departments affected by the Trump Shutdown:  Homeland Security, Treasury, Agriculture, Interior, Housing and Urban Development, Justice, Commerce, Transportation, and State.  In addition, numerous critical smaller independent agencies, including EPA, the Small Business Administration, and NASA, are affected.  (The federal departments that are already fully funded for FY 2019 and are not affected by the Trump Shutdown are:  Defense, Veterans Affairs, Health and Human Services, Education, Labor, Energy, and Legislative Branch.)      

Will my mail still arrive during the shutdown?
Yes.  The U.S. Postal Service is not affected by a government shutdown.  The U.S. Postal Service is an independent entity that is funded through the sale of its products and services, and not by tax dollars. 

Will I continue to receive my Social Security checks? 
Yes. Social Security is not affected by the shutdown--all offices remain open and benefits will continue uninterrupted.

Will Medicare and Medicaid be interrupted?
No.  The operations of Medicare and Medicaid will operate normally during the shutdown.  

Are veterans benefits, health care, and other services affected? 
No. The Department of Veterans Affairs is fully funded.

Can I get taxpayer assistance from IRS personnel during the shutdown?
It will likely be difficult.  While the shutdown continues, 90 percent of the IRS staff is furloughed.  IRS’s “tax filing season” is January-April.  Beginning in January, some Americans will start thinking about filing their 2018 taxes, due April 15, 2019.  This will be the first year when Americans are filing their taxes under changes made by the 2017 tax law, and many will have numerous questions.  If the shutdown continues, the limited IRS staff will be unable to keep up with the questions coming in from taxpayers using the IRS customer service hotline.  

Can I get a passport during the shutdown?
Yes, depending on where you live.  Funded by fees, the U.S. Passport Agency remains open during the shutdown and continues to issue passports.  However, depending on where you live, the State Department could curtail issuing passports where those passport services are offered in buildings run by another agency that is shut down.    
Will I be able to continue visiting the national parks during the shutdown?
The Trump Administration claims that the vast majority of national parks are “open” during the shutdown (on the grounds that barriers have not been put up at the parks to prevent entry.)  However, the fact is that there are no services for visitors to National Park Service sites during the shutdown.  Services such as restrooms, visitors’ centers, campgrounds, information kiosks, trash removal, and interpretative programs are all closed during the shutdown.  The vast majority of National Park Service employees are furloughed.  Also, law enforcement staffing is sharply curtailed, so visitors’ safety will be put at risk.

Will the Smithsonian Museums continue to be open during the shutdown?
No, the museums have been forced to close.

What is the impact of the shutdown on small businesses?
A shutdown halts federal loans to small businesses.  During a shutdown, the Small Business Administration stops approving applications for small businesses to obtain loans and guarantees, typically $1 billion per month.  Indeed, on Dec. 22, SBA put a notice on Facebook simply stating, “Due to the lapse in government funding, SBA will remain inactive until further notice.”  

What is the impact on home mortgage applications?
During the shutdown, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) will see significant delays in loan processing and approvals, due to the furloughing of most employees.  Thousands of people trying to buy a new home or refinance a FHA-insured mortgage will likely be put on standby. Mortgage loans through USDA Rural Development’s programs are not currently being processed.

What is the impact on FDA’s food safety activities?
During the Trump Shutdown, the FDA will be unable to support a number of its food safety activities.  FDA has furloughed 40 percent of its employees.  As a result, it will have to reduce its routine inspections of domestic food facilities.  For example, in the 16-day GOP shutdown in 2013, the FDA had to delay nearly 360 food safety inspections.

What is the impact on craft breweries?
During the shutdown, the Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) is unable to issue labels required for sale of new alcoholic beverages.  While this stoppage affects all brewers, distillers, and winemakers, it has particularly hit craft brewers hard, as they are unable to sell their new and seasonal products. 

Federal Employees

How many federal employees have to work without pay during the Trump Shutdown? 
There are approximately 420,000 federal employees, deemed “essential,” including FBI agents, DEA agents, Secret Service agents, TSA, and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents, who are being required to work without pay during the Trump Shutdown.  None of them will receive a paycheck until the shutdown is over and the government re-opens.  The longer the Trump Shutdown lasts, the longer they are working without a paycheck, increasing their families’ financial difficulties.

How many federal employees have been put on unpaid furlough during the Trump Shutdown?
There are also approximately 380,000 federal employees who have been placed on unpaid furlough during the Trump Shutdown. They are also not receiving any pay during the Trump Shutdown.

Will the 420,000 federal employees forced to work without pay during the shutdown receive the pay for their work when the shutdown is over?
Yes.  Under federal law, those federal employees forced to work without pay in the shutdown are guaranteed the pay they have earned when the government re-opens.

Will the 380,000 federal employees who were placed on unpaid furlough during the shutdown receive back pay when the shutdown is over?
Yes. Congress has passed, and the President has signed, legislation to provide back pay. 

Are any private resources available to help affected federal employees? 
Yes, thankfully, private businesses and non-profits have stepped in where they can to provide assistance to federal employees living without a paycheck. A list of national resources is available herea rundown of Maine offerings is here, and Midcoast Maine resources are here. 

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