Nationwide, about 800,000 federal employees could be furloughed starting Tuesday if the House and Senate are unable to agree on a budget.
“The federal government does not stop functioning completely, and by law, certain agencies must operate with unsalaried employees. They include those that deal with national security and the safety of people and property…” The Washington Post reported this week.
Rep. James Langevin blamed the potential shutdown on the Tea Party, and criticized Republicans for pushing the "devastating, across-the-board cuts" as leverage for their fight against the Affordable Care Act, which some term "Obamacare."
“Held hostage by the Tea Party, House Republicans have decided to use a government shutdown as leverage to push forward their single-minded agenda of blocking health care reform,” Langevin said on his official website. "It is time for Republicans to stop perpetuating and exploiting these self-imposed crises for political gain and join with Democrats to find consensus on the budget."
Rep. David Cicilline also laid blame upon the Tea Party and the "Civil War going on between two factions of the Republican Party." He told MSNBC, Republicans are wiling to "put people at tremendous risk ... and shut down the the government unless they get 100 percent of what they want — which is to defunding of Obamacare."
The government last shut down due to a budget impasse from Nov. 13 – 19, 1995, and again from Dec. 15, 1995 to Jan. 6, 1996.
What will change?
You'll likely see a noticeable reduction in rush-hour traffic in the Washington metro area starting Tuesday, along with:
Smithsonian museums would be closed to the public; only employees responsible for animals at the zoo and other essential functions would remain on duty.
National parks would close to the public.
Visa and passport applications would remain unprocessed.
Calls to the IRS will go unanswered.
What won’t change?
You will still get your mail from the U.S. Postal Service.
Social Security, Medicare and unemployment insurance payments would continue as scheduled, according to government sources.
Military members, air traffic controllers and border patrol agents would stay on the job, as would essential law enforcement personnel.
While active military will stay on the job at home and abroad, non-essential civilian military employees would be placed on furlough.
Members of Congress are considered “essential,” so they would stay on the job and be paid. Most Congressional staffers will be furloughed.
However, in the 1995 and 1996 shutdowns, many federal employees were paid retroactively for the days they were furloughed. Whether that will happen this year remains to be seen, NPR reported.