By Jon Delano, KDKA Politics Editor
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Whether we like it or not, most of us are impacted by the federal government, so when it shuts down because Congress and the President cannot agree on how much to fund government services, average citizens may be affected.
Expecting a tax refund? Count on a delay. Tax returns are still due April 18th, but the IRS will not be fully staffed to process your returns.
Need assistance at the local Social Security office? Not likely. While Social Security checks will still be mailed out on time to current recipients, new applicants for that key program and disability programs will have no one to sign them up.
And if you have a trip planned out of the country and need a passport, forget it. The passport and visa office will be shut down.
Federal parks and museums like the Smithsonian in Washington, DC will also close their doors.
If you are among the thousands laid off from work and collecting federal unemployment benefits, those payments could be disrupted if the shut-down lasts.
Hoping to buy a house with a low-interest rate because of federal home loan guarantees? That, too, could be delayed.
Need some quick medical help? Don’t call the Centers for Disease Control or federal health hotlines. No one may answer.
Even the National Weather Service may have to shutter its windows, not for storms, but for lack of funding
The law does allow some federal workers to keep working, those “performing emergency work involving the safety of human life.”
That includes air traffic controllers and TSA agents at the airport; FBI, prison guards, and key law enforcement officials; veterans hospitals for emergencies but not outpatient services; federal courts, at least the criminal cases; and the US Postal Service, which is self-funded.
And, expect our men and women in the armed services, to stay on the job.
After UPMC, the federal government is the largest single employer in this region.
During the last shut-down in 1986 which lasted three weeks, Congress paid the 800,000 federal workers their lost pay. No one knows if that will happen this time.
How long could this shut-down last? It will last until Republicans and Democrats reach a compromise on federal spending.