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Washington, D.C. – Every year, Congress passes 12 appropriations bills to fund the government. When these bills are enacted, programs covered by them receive their full-year funding. However, if these bills are not passed and there is no continuing resolution in place to temporarily fund the government, then portions of the government that have not been funded by law must shut down. A new column from the Center for American Progress explained what a shutdown is and what it would mean for the United States.

While a government shutdown would not affect mandatory programs that receive their funding outside of the annual funding process – such as Medicare, Social Security, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program known as CHIP – it would halt certain essential programs that millions of Americans rely on. The longer a shutdown lasts, the more programs are affected.

The column unpacks what federal programs must immediately cease during federal shutdowns:

• Some preschool and school readiness centers would close, leading to some children losing their Head Start benefit.

• Most inspections of drinking water facilities and hazardous waste sites that are led by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency would cease, with 93% of its staff furloughed.

• The U.S. Food and Drug Administration would continue with its high-risk food safety inspections, but its routine inspections of low-risk foods, such as packaged cookies and crackers, would cease.

• Workplace safety inspections made by the Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration  known as OSHA would be limited, leading to some workers laboring in unsafe conditions.

• The Small Business Administration would stop processing new loan applications.

• The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s loans to farmers would pause.

• The U.S. Department of Justice would postpone or curtail some of its civil litigation.

• Much research from NASA and the National Science Foundation would cease, with new grants and unfunded new projects halted and 93% and 80% of their staff, respectively, furloughed.

“A shutdown would have devastating impacts on essential programs that millions rely on for their health and safety,” said Bobby Kogan, senior director of Federal Budget Policy at CAP and author of the column. “From Head Start preschool centers to having safe drinking water, a government shutdown could put essential programs that our communities rely on in danger. A government shutdown could create unnecessary uncertainty for millions that rely on these programs every day.”

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