The federal government seems poised for yet another shutdown, with little time left before the deadline of midnight on Saturday to solve stalled negotiations.
The longest federal government shutdown was only a few years ago, beginning in December 2018 and lasting 35 days until January 2019. Shutdowns affect large swaths of government employees, leaving many furloughed without paychecks. About 89,000 Floridians work for the federal government, according to a recent congressional research report.
Floridians who don’t work for the federal government could see an impact in their daily lives as well because shutdowns affect a variety of government services. Here’s what to know.
Social Security and other health services
Florida’s many Social Security recipients would continue to receive their benefits even if a shutdown happens, according to The Associated Press. But if Social Security Administration employees are furloughed, Floridians who need to verify benefits or get a new Social Security card may have trouble.
More than 1 in 5 Florida residents receives Social Security benefits, or nearly 5 million people, according to AARP.
Medicare is also generally not affected during government shutdowns because it is a “mandatory” spending program, so Congress does not need to act to keep the program running. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has funding for Medicaid through the first quarter of the 2024 fiscal year, according to NPR.
Veterans’ health care will also continue because the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs receives advance appropriations specifically to protect the department from being affected by political fights over spending, according to Military.com. In 2022, the department got $150 billion to fund veterans’ services, including health treatments, through 2024. Veterans’ pensions would continue during a shutdown as well.
Employees with the Federal Aviation Administration, Transportation Security Administration and Customs and Border Protection would likely be affected by a government shutdown. But Emily Nipps, spokesperson for Tampa International Airport, said that the “majority” of those federal employees are considered essential and would still have to report to work. (Federal employees whose work involves public safety or other responsibilities deemed as essential must still work during a shutdown but will not be paid during it.)
“As such, we expect minimal to no impact on operations at TPA,” Nipps said.
Food help for low-income residents
A federal government shutdown could affect access to food and nutrition assistance programs geared toward low-income residents, including seniors, people with disabilities and mothers.
The White House highlighted concerns about the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, saying a government shutdown could affect nearly 421,300 women and young children in Florida using the program. The White House said a federal contingency fund for the program would likely dry up after just a few days, leaving it up to states to fund the program.
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A spokesperson for the Florida Department of Health did not address what would happen to the program’s recipients in the case of a shutdown, but said, “The department is monitoring congressional proceedings and will act accordingly should the federal government shut down.”
Floridians who receive benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, once known as food stamps, will likely be able to continue getting assistance as usual through October, according to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.
Thomas Mantz, president and CEO of Feeding Tampa Bay, said his organization is there for people who need additional support, like in the case of a government shutdown.
“Our organization provided food and services to ensure our neighbors were able to manage through the disruption the previous government shutdown caused and we can be counted on to respond in the same way if necessary,” Mantz said.
School lunches for children could also be affected in the case of a long shutdown. The U.S. Department of Agriculture said it could continue funding school meals in October and potentially for months after that, but not for the full year without appropriations.
The Florida National Guard and emergency assistance
The Florida National Guard has begun planning for a shutdown, said William Manley, the deputy communications director for the Guard.
Manley, in an email, said that the Florida National Guard still stands ready to respond at any time, including in the case of a shutdown. Some of the Florida Guard’s missions, including hurricane response and assisting at Florida prisons because of staffing shortages, are funded by the state, Manley said.
“Additionally, even if the federal government shuts down, specific functions are considered ‘excepted’ and allowed to continue, including activities to save lives and protect property,” Manley said.
Flood insurance programs
In the case of a shutdown, the National Flood Insurance Program would not be able to operate, preventing buyers from securing flood insurance, according to NBC News.
That could delay or almost entirely stop home sales in flood-prone areas, Jim Tobin, the leader of the National Association of Home Builders, told NBC.
Flood insurance is required in areas that have significant flood risk, and new policies would not be able to be issued during a shutdown. Existing flood insurance policies would continue, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency will continue to pay out claims until funding runs out or until a shutdown is resolved, according to NBC.
United States Postal Service employees will continue to deliver the mail even if there is a government shutdown. According to the agency’s shutdown plan, they do “not cease operations during any Federal lapse in appropriations.”
The service is funded through the sale of postage, not taxpayer dollars appropriated by Congress, according to The Washington Post, insulating them from the shutdown.
That means the employees who do work during the shutdown will continue to receive paychecks.