By: Akia Espioza, Senior Articles Editor, J.D. Candidate, May 2019, St. Thomas University School of Law.

A Government Shutdown occurs when Congress and the President fail to sign a budget for the next fiscal year. During a shutdown, federal agencies that are considered ‘nonessential’ are forced to close, until new funding legislation is passed. However, these ‘nonessential’ agencies become more essential as a shutdown looms on.

From Social Security and Medicare to the Environmental Protection Agency halting site inspections that include hazardous waste, drinking water, and chemical facilities, and food in general, this shutdown can become dangerous. The Internal Revenue Service will potentially be delaying tax refunds for everyone, including federal employees that are already working without pay. In addition, when a shutdown continues, national security becomes a risk. Especially when the Federal Bureau of Investigation is included in the nonessential agencies list, in addition to the Transportation Security Administration, that has already caused backlogs at airports and security scares. 

Thousands of federal employees become furloughed, meaning that they are not allowed to come back to work and do not receive paychecks. Many other thousands of federal employees are forced to report to work but do not receive paychecks until the shutdown ends. Because of this, many federal employees, understandably, call out of work out of financial hardship, or out of protest. These federal employees count on their paycheck to take care of their home and livelihood, already causing many of them to resort to other means for income. From GoFundMe pages to food drives, to small businesses helping affected federal employees in any way they can, federal employees are the most affected by shutdowns. Until Congress and the President come to a resolution, the effects of a shutdown will only continue to become more prevalent in everyday life. Unfortunately, until said resolution comes into effect, federal agencies and federal employees will continue to be strained.