The US government will enter a partial shutdown if Congress is unable to allocate funds to certain federal agencies by the end of this week.
If not met, the deadlines could result in leave for thousands of federal workers, destabilizing the U.S. economy in the midst of a health crisis.
Impact of closure
If the government fails to allocate funds, non-essential federal services such as museums and parks will be closed, while essential services such as police and firefighters will continue to operate, the Center said for a Federal Budget. responsible. This could mean that three in five of the estimated 2.1 million federal employees would be forced to stop working, the Bipartisan Policy Center told Reuters. They would, however, continue to receive their salaries if the government could come to an agreement on spending.
Additionally, agencies such as the Small Business Administration and the Federal Housing Administration will stop processing new loan applications when the agencies cease work. Research organizations such as the National Institutes of Health will also not award new research grants or enroll patients in clinical studies, Forbes reported.
Fighting COVID-19 to take a back seat
About 62% of staff at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the agency that is central to COVID-19 pandemic relief efforts in the country, could be put on unpaid leave during the pandemic. Many would continue to work without pay until funding is approved.
“The agency will certainly operate with less efficiency,” David Reich, a former congressman, currently at think-tank Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, told Reuters.
“The worst time in the world when we want to shut down government is in the midst of a pandemic where 140,000 people a day are infected and 2,000 people die every day. This is the time when you want the government to work hard to fix this problem. I think it would have a profound effect on things if the government closed its doors. So that should be avoided, if possible, ”Chief Medical Officer Dr Anthony Fauci told The Early last week.
What’s the exit?
Congress is due to pass an spending bill that will keep federal agencies afloat until December. Senate Republicans blocked the bill on September 27 because it included a provision to raise the ceiling on federal borrowing, citing concerns about rising inflation.
Democrats could remove the debt ceiling measure from funding legislation and quickly pass the bill to avoid a shutdown.
Likewise, Republicans could also place a stand-alone continuing resolution without the debt limit provision this week, Sen. Pat Toomey told CNN on September 26.
In 2019, the United States faced a similar government shutdown when around 800,000 workers were left out of work and paid for 35 days. The closure resulted in significant delays in flight schedules.
(Edited by : Shoma Bhattacharjee, Aditi Gautam)
First publication: STI