The United States is staring down a potential government shutdown as lawmakers have just weeks to pass crucial spending legislation.
The Senate returned last week from Congress’ August recess, when lawmakers spend time working in their home districts. House lawmakers will return to the Capitol on Tuesday, and the two chambers have until Sept. 30 to pass a federal budget. If lawmakers cannot push through 11 out of 12 separate spending bills, after passing just one before the August recess, the country will face a government shutdown.
Congress could pass a measure called a continuing resolution, which would buy them more time to fund the government until an agreed upon date.
But even with additional time, it’s not clear lawmakers will be able to agree on funding.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., will have to wrangle his right flank, a group of conservative lawmakers known as the House Freedom Caucus. They have drawn hard lines on government spending, including calling for more security on the southern border, targeting the Department of Defense’s abortion polices and more. Many of the proposals will be dead on arrival in the Senate, which Democrats currently control.
But if lawmakers don’t reach a compromise in time, the government could shut down, causing real risks for Americans across the country. Here’s what you need to know.
Does a government shutdown affect social security?
Government shutdowns can have different consequences for Americans, but a shutdown means that all but “essential” federal agencies stop their work.
But how do officials define essential? Mail delivered by the U.S. Postal Service will still arrive, and Social Security recipients will still receive their checks, regardless of a government shutdown. Medicare benefits will also continue uninterrupted.
And if you’re planning to travel, air traffic controllers will still be on the job, and customs and border agents will still work at border crossings and ports of entry. However, passport applications could be disrupted.
Federal services and other work deemed not essential can still have major impacts. Hundreds of thousands of federal employees would be furloughed, and government food assistance benefits could see delays. National parks could have to turn away visitors, and some non-essential food safety inspections could also be delayed during a government shutdown.
A poll done for the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, a nonpartisan organization focused on addressing the country’s fiscal challenges, found that 91% of Democrats and 89% of Republicans said lawmakers in both parties should work together to avoid a government shutdown.
“Nobody wins in a government shutdown, especially our economy and the American people,” said Michael A. Peterson, the Peterson Foundation’s chief executive officer.
Contributing: Michael Collins, Ken Tran and Rachel Looker, USA TODAY
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Does a government shutdown stop Social Security? What about Medicare?