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Government Shutdown

Federal Government Shutdown: Frequently Asked Questions

In the event of a government shutdown, my office has prepared answers to these frequently asked questions about the government shutdown below. You can also contact my Washington D.C. office at (202) 225-2040 or my San Diego office at (619) 280-5353. 

Will your office still process casework?

Yes, my San Diego and Washington, D.C. offices and phone lines will remain open and will accept visitors by appointment. However, many federal employees who work at federal agencies will be furloughed, including the Congressional liaisons who work with our office to resolve constituent casework. More details on how each federal agency will operate in a shutdown can be found here. My office can still submit your casework request as we normally would, but it’s unlikely that our office will hear back from federal agencies until the shutdown ends — and once it does, we expect them to be working through a significant backlog. 

I already have a case open with your office, should I do anything during the shutdown?

My office is continuing to submit inquiries to federal agencies including requesting updates on constituents' behalf, submitting paperwork, and opening new cases. We will provide you with an update as soon as it is available.

I’m coming to Washington, D.C. – will my tours still take place?

Unfortunately, tour guides and visitor center staff in Washington, D.C. government buildings are considered non-essential and visitor centers will be closed. This means that all tours of the U.S. Capitol, the White House, and the FBI Building will be canceled during the shutdown. 

Will I continue to receive my Social Security and SSI checks?

Recipients will continue to receive their Social Security and SSI checks. The Social Security Administration (SSA) will provide limited services like issuing Social Security cards and holding appointments for benefit applications. However, SSA will stop services like benefit verifications and processing overpayments. Customer service wait times will dramatically increase.

Will Medicare and Medicaid benefits be affected?

Current Medicare, Medicaid, and disability insurance beneficiaries will continue to receive their benefits assuming a shutdown lasts less than three months. The Medicare open enrollment period running from October 15 through December 7 will be unaffected, although communications from the agency may be stalled or outdated.

What happens to veterans’ services?

All Veterans Affairs (VA) medical facilities and clinics will remain operational. The VA will continue to process veterans’ benefits. However, veterans will be affected by the shutdown of other services that they count on, including education and job training, support for veteran-owned businesses, and assistance for homeless veterans.

Which federal employees keep working during a government shutdown?

When the government shuts down, federal agencies are required to classify their employees whose salaries have lapsed as either “excepted” or “not excepted.” The employees classified as “excepted” work without pay during the shutdown. The employees classified as “not excepted” are put on unpaid furlough. Fortunately, thanks to the Government Employee Fair Treatment Act of 2019, both “excepted” and “not excepted” employees will receive back pay once a shutdown ends.

What is the impact on U.S. military personnel and federal law enforcement?

All active-duty, Guard, and Reservists on active-duty orders are “excepted” and therefore are required to work without pay. On-base non-acute health care will cease, although off-base care provided through Tricare will not be affected. On-base child care at Naval Base San Diego and Miramar will remain open. Federal law enforcement will also be required to work without pay for the duration of a shutdown.

Will military and federal retiree benefits be suspended?

Military and federal retirees will continue to receive their retirement benefits. Processing new applications or other requested changes will be delayed.

Should I cancel my upcoming travel?

You can proceed with your travel plans. Air traffic controllers, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers, and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents will work throughout the shutdown without pay. However, you should expect significant delays and longer wait times across the country.

What about international travel?

All services at international embassies and consulates will continue during a lapse of appropriations. If you are abroad and need help, you can contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

What does this mean for disaster relief efforts?

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) staff will still respond to emergencies, but all long-term projects will be delayed due to a lack of funding in the Disaster Relief Fund.

How will this affect environmental protection and cleanup?

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will stop inspecting most hazardous waste sites, as well as drinking water and chemical facilities. Efforts to address dangerous contaminants like PFAS – which are linked to severe health effects, including cancer – will be delayed, and cleanup activities at Superfund sites will slow or cease.

What is the impact on food assistance?

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) will quickly run out of funding and be unable to provide food for children and parents in need. In the case of a prolonged shutdown, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits may also be affected.

What is the impact on food safety activities?

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) food safety activities – such as routine inspections of facilities – will be delayed across the country.

What is the impact on housing?

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) will stop insuring some new mortgages and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will stop processing some new loans. The Department of Agriculture (USDA) will stop new loan and loan guarantee activity. The VA will continue to guarantee home loans. Funding for federal housing assistance programs, such as Housing Choice Vouchers, may be jeopardized in a prolonged shutdown.

How will this affect small businesses?

The Small Business Administration (SBA) will stop processing new business loans, such as through the 7(a) and 504 programs. However, SBA’s Disaster Loan Program will continue regular operations.

Will my mail still arrive?

Yes. The U.S. Postal Service is not affected by a shutdown.

What does this mean for medical research?

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) will be forced to delay new clinical trials. New patients who are waiting for a chance at new treatment through a clinical trial will be turned away.

Will my passport renewal still be processed?

Passport applications will continue to be processed. The Bureau of Consular Affairs/Passport Services is designated as an essential service provider and is funded through passport fees, so all of Passport Services, including agencies and the National Passport Information Center, will remain open during a lapse of appropriations.

Will immigration applications still be processed?

Visa and passport operations are fee-funded and thus are not normally impacted by a lapse in appropriations. Immigration court cases on the detained docket will proceed during a lapse in congressional appropriations while non-detained docket cases will be reset for a later date when funding resumes. The Department of Homeland Security estimates that Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement will retain the vast majority of their employees during a shutdown. 

What is the impact on state and local services?

The federal government shutdown will not immediately affect any state or local services. However, with federal funding cut off, some state or local governments may have to change their operations. Check with state and local agencies for specific questions.