5 Things You’ll Really Miss in a Federal Shutdown

Panda on a rocking horse

Welcome to the federal government shutdown, day one! No one is really surprised that Congress failed to agree on even a temporary spending package to keep the federal government running.  While many of you may be thinking, “Who needs the feds anyway?”, there are people who are going to suffer almost immediately because of the immediate cut-off of funds.  Here are five things we’re pretty sure you’re going to miss sooner rather than later:

1. School lunch programs. They are OK for now, but reports indicate that funding is only available through the end of the month for kids who rely on the federal school lunch program to make it through the day without being hungry. If Congress doesn’t decide that your kids’ ability to get a decent lunch so they can concentrate in the classroom is more important than their game of ‘federal budget chicken’, the almost 70 percent of American school kids who receive some assistance in getting lunch at school are going to be very hungry.

2. Veterans’ pensions. If you or a family member rely on assistance from the Veteran’s Administration, you could be looking at some hard times later this month.  If the shutdown continues for more than a couple of weeks, funds to pay pension checks to over 3.5 million veterans will run out.

3. Flu News. While you may still be able to get seasonal flu shots for you and your kids, it’s unclear how long the stash of vaccine that’s currently available through the Centers for Disease Control will last. Just as important, though, is that the federal employees whose job it is to track flu outbreaks and give us all a head’s up about where you’re more likely to get the flu are on unpaid leave now, and will have to play some major catch-up when Congress finally gets its act together on the budget.

4. That pending home loan.  Have you been shopping around for a new home loan or hoping that things would go smoothly with your refinancing? If you were looking at federally guaranteed home loans, you’re probably SOL until Congress decides this unscheduled vacation needs to end, since the personnel needed to review and process those applications have been sent home until the next temporary budget (not even one for a full year!) is approved.

5. No more Panda-cam. Sorry, people.  We know the new baby panda is awfully cute, but the National Zoo is now closed, as is the very popular online Panda-cam.  We’re not sure how keeping a website up is costing the feds any extra money, but you’ll have to wait to see any more cuddly mommy/baby panda bonding moments until your elected officials stop acting like children and pass a budget

Not surprisingly, any tax payments you owe to Uncle Sam during the shutdown will still be due.  However, if you’re owed money by the federal government, expect that to be delayed.  You’re not surprised about that, right?

Image via Joanne Bamberger. All rights reserved

  • Anne Born

    Lots of folks think it only affects the people who work in government buildings in DC. That is really just not the case – thanks for pointing that out!

  • Jessica

    If you live in DC, it affects you even if you don’t work for the government. The Metro might start running with less frequency if this lasts long enough, and if Obama doesn’t approve an exemption then municipal employees in DC won’t have funding beyond October 11 — meaning no garbage pickup, no city offices, etc. etc.

    Restaurants, bars, and shops near the Hill will also probably suffer if no one’s in the neighborhood for work and not getting paid to come out when they’re not working.

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