There’s plenty of talk about a potential government shutdown, but how would a government shutdown affect you. Below are the answers to the questions you’ve been asking:

  • What Causes a Federal Government Shutdown? Congress must authorize and the President must approve the spending of federal funds. If an agreement cannot be met, all non-essential entities of the federal government must cease. Congress has been unable to agree on a budget for this fiscal year, and if they do not come to an agreement by Friday at midnight the government will “shutdown.” This won’t be the first time we’ve had a government shutdown.


  • What Are Non-Essential Entities of the Government? Non-essential entities that will cease operating include national parks and museums. The Federal Housing Administration and the Small Business Administration will cease processing loans and the IRS will not process paper returns or refunds. Approximately 800,000 federal employees will be furloughed and won’t be paid during a government shutdown. For a full list of what services will not be functioning, click here.


  • Will Congress and the President Still Receive Paychecks? While 800,000 federal employees will cease to receive paychecks, members of Congress and the President w still receive their checks. However, the congressional staff would likely be furloughed.


  • What Will Happen to Oversees Troops, Homeland Security, and Federal Law Enforcement Agencies? While pay to troops could be delayed and some civilian employees of the Department of Defense could be furloughed, ongoing military operation would continue. The federal government would still continue monitoring terrorists and prisoners. Law enforcement and the monitoring of coastlines and borders would also continue.


  • Will State Governments and U.S. Territories be Affected? If the government is shutdown for a prolonged period of time it could slow federal funds being distributed to state governments and cause complications or furloughs on the state level as well. Illinois for example receives $77 million a day for various programs. Because the state does not have the money to temporary fund these projects and programs, they may be furloughed as well. Puerto Rico is heavily depended on federal funds. If the federal government shutdown last longer than a week, it could be detrimental to Puerto Rico’s 11,000 federal employees.

Update (4/8/11 at 1:02 pm): Correction–Illinois receives $77 million a day for projects.