The federal government is set to shut down Oct. 1 if Congress fails to get a deal passed and signed into law by the president.
A shutdown could sideline some of the nearly 17,000 Minnesotans employed by the federal government and cause a number of disruptions to services. States across the country are already scrambling to try to fill in any potential gaps.
"We're looking at nutrition programs, we're looking at long-term care, we're looking at those things," Gov. Tim Walz said this week, adding that he's frustrated by the situation. "These are incredibly damaging, they are incredibly costly."
With a shutdown looming, here are answers to questions about what is going on in Washington and the potential impacts here:
What will happen to federal workers in Minnesota?
Minnesota has fewer federal employees than many states, and not all will be affected by a potential shutdown in the same way. Some workers will be furloughed, while others will have to continue working without pay, including Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employees at the airport and guards at the state's federal prisons.
Federal workers will get back pay once a shutdown ends thanks to a law passed in 2019. Workers can collect unemployment during the shutdown, but they have to return the benefits after the shutdown ends.
Why is this happening?
The federal government's current fiscal year ends when the calendar flips from September to October. Even though lawmakers typically do not have all the necessary government funding bills passed and signed into law by Sept. 30 every year, they can pass a funding patch known as a continuing resolution to keep the government open in the short term. That's happened in recent years, but doesn't appear likely this time.
Congress is divided — Republicans control the U.S. House, Democrats run the U.S. Senate while Democratic President Joe Biden is in the White House — so any agreement on even a short term government funding plan needs bipartisan support.
"As the process goes forward, everybody will be heard," House Majority Whip Tom Emmer of Minnesota said at a news conference on Wednesday. "We'll see what happens."
Democrats are also facing pressure to avert a shutdown given their control of the Senate and White House.
What services will continue?
Federal employees will keep airports up and running and the Postal Service is funded through a separate revenue stream, so mail will continue to be delivered during a shutdown. Recipients of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and disability insurance will continue to receive benefits, and Veterans Affairs (VA) medical facilities and clinics will still be operational, according to a memo from the House's Democratic Policy and Communications Committee (DPCC). Forecasting from the National Weather Service will continue.
What services might be curtailed during a shutdown?
While Social Security checks will still go out, a shutdown would halt other services like benefit verifications, according to a contingency plan for the agency outlined in August. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack warned this week that a shutdown would close local USDA offices. Payments through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will continue at least through October and the state Department of Health said funding will continue for two to three weeks for mothers and babies who benefit from the Women, Infants & Children (WIC) program.
What happens to members of the military during a shutdown?
Across the country, active duty military members would continue to report to work without pay until the shutdown ends, including roughly 500 people in Minnesota, according to the White House.
Will federal courts in Minnesota continue operating?
Minnesota's four district court offices are expected to operate as usual during a shutdown.
What about federal parks?
Minnesota has one national park — Voyageurs in northern Minnesota — as well as several national monuments, a scenic riverway on the St. Croix and a recreation area that stretches 72 miles along the Mississippi River. Services that require national park staff may be stopped, but closures would be decided on a location-by-location basis, according to the DPCC.
How common are shutdowns?
Federal government shutdowns of different types and lengths have become more common; one this year would mark the first since 2019 according to the U.S. House history website.
That partial shutdown lasted 34 days — the longest on record — according to the historical data. It started in late 2018 when Republicans controlled the House, and carried over into January of 2019 when Democrats took over the chamber as a result of the midterm elections. During that partial shutdown, Congress had already passed some appropriations bills. This one would be different — they haven't gotten any appropriations bills signed into law yet.
Star Tribune staff writer Liz Navratil contributed to this report.