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What is impacted by a 'partial' government shutdown?

If Congress can't reach a funding agreement by Friday, money for several key departments and agencies will run out.
What is impacted by a 'partial' government shutdown?
Posted at 10:17 AM, Feb 28, 2024

Let's face it — there are a lot of government programs and agencies. But yet again, every federal agency and every federal worker is facing the prospect of a possible partial or full government shutdown in the coming days.

Let's start with how the federal government gets funded. Typically, it's broken up into 12 different parts.

For instance, state and foreign operations is one funding bill, homeland security is another bill, and so on. Funding for the entire government usually expires at the same time. But that's not the case with the current potential shutdown.

On Friday, only these four government sectors are potentially impacted:

- Agriculture, Rural Development, and the Food and Drug Administration

- Energy and Water Development

- Military Construction and Veterans Affairs

- Transportation, Housing and Urban Development

SEE MORE: Biden and Congressional leaders debate funding for foreign aid

Last week, Congressional leaders met with President Joe Biden to discuss a path forward. All agreed that a shutdown should be prevented.

The easiest way to avoid a shutdown would be to pass what's known as a continuing resolution. That would extend current government funding temporarily to a certain date. But there is a problem with that.

Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson has criticized that approach, instead calling on Congress to pass four appropriations bills — like it is supposed to — between now and Friday. That would give the budget in those agencies a fresh update.

However, that approach is also tricky. Friday's deadline is quickly approaching and even if just one paragraph in a bill is controversial, it could prompt Democrats in the Senate to vote against it.

From a political standpoint, that means Johnson must tread lightly considering the last speaker — Kevin McCarthy — lost his job due to how he approached avoiding a government shutdown.

SEE MORE: McConnell to Scripps News: We're not going to shut the government down

Overall, a partial government shutdown would stop all work for about 20% of the government and delay paychecks to impacted workers in agencies like the Department of Agriculture and air traffic controllers. However, those workers are guaranteed back pay once the government reopens. 

Meanwhile, a partial shutdown also means some federal food assistance programs may face delays — like WIC — which helps low-income parents afford food and baby formula. 

If there is any good news coming out of all of this, it's that the markets — for the moment — appear confident that Congress will find a way to avert a shutdown by Friday's deadline. The market forecasting site Kalshi estimates that there is only an 11% chance of a government shutdown this weekend.

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