By Amaris Castillo, M. Bilal Lakhani, Aliza Moorji, Tatiana Sanchez, Audrey Yoo
By Thursday afternoon, lawmakers in Washington had yet to reach an agreement on the budget for this year. So far, the government has been operating on temporary spending bills. The latest bill expires Friday and if members of Congress do not reach an agreement by midnight tomorrow, the federal government will shut down. The Ink looks at how the possible shutdown may – or may not – affect Brooklyn. Overall, life for most Brooklynites, will still go on. So long as the shutdown doesn’t go on too long.
Emergency Services and National Security
As Brooklyn braces for a federal government shutdown, essential government services would be unaffected. All government employees performing “emergency work involving the safety of human life or the protection of property” are exempted from the shutdown. Put simply, the police and fire departments as well as national security agencies would continue to operate.
For those hoping that the possibility of a shutdown would give you a small break from school, sorry to burst your bubble. Public and charter schools would remain open, but the Washington Post reports that 4,150 out of 4,465 full and part-time employees of the U.S. Department of Education would be furloughed.
Medicare patients will see no changes in service thanks to an emergency trust fund, although new applications may not get processed. If the shutdown were to last a few months, Medicare services would stop, according to ABC News. Medicaid recipients have no reason to worry either, as states receive advanced quarterly payments from the federal government.
Vocational rehabilitation and counseling services for veterans would not be available during the shutdown. But, Veteran Affairs hospitals, including the Veterans Affairs Medical Center of Brooklyn, would remain open.
National Institutes of Health would provide limited services. Though they would not take in new patients or trials, they would continue to address the 640 clinical trials in progress.
Welfare benefits and social security payments would be disbursed as usual. The Treasury Department will also continue to provide extended unemployment insurance benefits. But, if the shutdown lasts until May, the distribution of food stamps may be suspended because they are handed out at the beginning of each month, reports The Atlantic.
Don’t cancel your travel plans. You would still be able to go on vacation far, far away from this potential shutdown. ABC News reports that air travel would not be affected. Air traffic controllers and Transportation Security Administration agents are considered “essential” employees. But if you plan to get a new passport for a trip overseas, you may have to wait longer than usual because of processing delays at the State Department.
Ellis Island would remain closed during the shut down. So if you want to visit the Statue of Liberty, think again.