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January 19, 2018

President Trump and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) met in a rare private meeting Friday afternoon in a last-ditch attempt to negotiate a budget ahead of the looming midnight deadline. Aides said that Republican congressional leaders were not in attendance.

"We made some progress but we still have a good number of disagreements," Schumer told reporters afterward. "The discussion will continue."

While the House passed a bill Thursday to keep the government funded until Feb. 16, it is widely thought that the measure will not pass the Senate, where it needs 60 votes. Democrats have refused to support a funding measure that does not protect young undocumented immigrants.

Congress has nine hours to agree on a budget before the government shuts down at midnight. Jeva Lange

January 19, 2018

If Congress doesn't pass a spending bill by midnight Friday, the federal government will start shutting down Saturday, with most of the impact starting Monday. About 850,000 federal workers would be sent home without pay, or furloughed, though employees deemed "essential" would stay on the job without pay (in the last shutdown, Congress paid all federal employees retroactively). A shutdown wouldn't be pretty, especially if it lasted for more than a few days, and it would cost the government in ways big and small.

Things that wouldn't change: The U.S. Postal Service would deliver mail as normal, Social Security and Medicare would be unaffected, veterans would still get health care, and air traffic controllers, Forest Service firefighters, and FDA food safety inspectors would stay on the job. And "it's a stretch, at best, to think the military would bear the brunt of a partial government shutdown," as President Trump and other Republican leaders have argued, The Associated Press says. "All military members would be required to report for work as usual. Paychecks would be delayed only if the shutdown lasted beyond Feb. 1." The White House also wants to keep national parks and memorials open.

But the 850,000 employees not working will stall activities at most federal agencies, and that will cause some havoc. Most intelligence analysts would be furloughed, AP says, and 61 percent of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would be sent home during a bad flu season. The IRS would likely furlough thousands of employees as it tries to implement the new GOP tax law, and biomedical and public health research at the National Institutes of Health would grind to a halt, adversely affecting some projects. "Day 1, the world doesn't fall apart," J. David Cox, national president of the American Federation of Government Employees, tells AP. But "things start to crumble" over time. Peter Weber

January 19, 2018
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The federal government appears headed for its first shutdown since 2013, but if you had plans to visit a national park or monument next week, you may not be out of luck. The Trump administration is still trying to figure out which federal employees would be furloughed and which would stay on the job during a shutdown, but Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is working to keep national parks open even if park employees are sent home, The Washington Post reports. The goal: "to minimize anger over the disruption of services."

The idea of keeping national parks and monuments open was reportedly pushed by White House budget director Mick Mulvaney, who told Fox Business this week that a shutdown "would look very different under a Republican administration than it would under a Democrat." In the last two shutdowns, Republicans controlled at least one house of Congress and a Democrat was in the White House, and Republicans shouldered most of the blame for ruining vacations. This time, "there is no desire to weaponize closing of public parks or monuments for partisan, political reasons," said John Czwartacki, a spokesman for Mulvaney's office.

How to keep the parks open is still being worked out, and there are risks involved with allowing unsupervised tourists to wander around federal lands. But politics aside, this seems like a nice gesture. After all, if Trump isn't changing his vacation plans for a government shutdown, why should you? Peter Weber