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Frequently Asked "Shutdown" Questions
Tuesday, 01 October 2013

October 1--  Twelfth District U.S. Congressman John Barrow answers frequently asked questions about the federal government shutdown in an email newsletter to constituents.

"At midnight, funding for government operations ended.  As a result, you’ll begin to see limited services available from the government in a number of areas.  It’s unfortunate that partisanship has led to the first government shutdown in 17 years.  I’ll continue to work during this time to find common ground to get the government running at full capacity again.  A pro-longed shutdown will only damage our economy. 

I’ve compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions for you to help you understand what’s going on during this shutdown.  With limited employees available to assist with Social Security, Medicare, and veterans claims, I want to make sure you’re taken care of during this time. My staff and I are available to assist in any way that we can.

1.       What causes a shutdown? Under the Constitution, Congress must pass – and the President must sign – laws to fund the government. If Congress can’t agree on that law – or if the President vetoes it – the government does not have the legal authority to operate.

2.       Why is this happening now? Current authority to spend money expired at midnight on September 30.  Because there is no authority to spend money, the federal government shuts down.

3.       Does a shutdown mean all federal government functions stop? No.  There are two major categories for federal employees in the event of a shutdown: exempted and non-exempted.  In a shutdown, exempted employees continue to work, although without pay.  Non-exempted employees report to work just for enough time to secure their office and may not continue to work beyond then. 

4.       What parts of the federal government continue to function?  There are key government functions that carry on during a shutdown, including anything related to national security, public safety, or programs written into permanent law.  Every federal branch, department, and agency has published a review of their employees to determine which employees are exempted and which are non-exempted.  You can see the reviews for the Executive Branch here.  You can see the reviews for the Legislative Branch here.  You can see the reviews for the Judicial Branch here. I have instructed my staff to report to work for two purposes: to work toward reopening the federal government and to be available to help any with any federal agency that is unresponsive due to limited staff. 

5.       And which parts must shut down? Everything else.

6.       Specifically, what will be open and what will not?  You can find some more questions and answers from the USA Today article here.

7.       Will I still receive my mail? Yes.

8.       Will I still receive my Social Security or Veterans Affairs check? Yes, but if the shutdown is prolonged, then it may be delayed.

9.        What will happen to my Veterans Affairs benefits?  Some benefits will be impacted, and others will not.  You can see more information here.

10.     Will I still have my Medicare insurance? Yes.

11.     Could government agencies ignore the shutdown? Under a federal law known as the Anti-Deficiency Act, it can be a felony to spend taxpayer money without an appropriation from Congress.

As always, please do not hesitate to call my office at (202) 225-2823 if you have any questions.  We will be open each day from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  You can find more information as it becomes available at barrow.house.gov/shutdown."

 

 

 
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