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US government shutdown could furlough workers or force unpaid work

US Capitol Building in Washington, DC

US government shutdown could furlough workers or force unpaid work

The US government has notified federal staff of an impending shutdown, resulting in furloughs or uncompensated work.

The looming Republican-led deadlock on Capitol Hill could shut down much of Washington.

The Biden administration has faced financial difficulties despite having 397 million daily users in the last quarter.

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The shutdown could lead to millions of employees and military personnel not receiving their pay in three days. 

Talks have begun in Congress to reach a last-minute agreement to extend federal funding beyond September 30.

The shutdown could disrupt various government services.

It will include national parks, passport offices, and essential aid programs like federal housing, food, and health assistance for those in need. 

However, services like Social Security and mail delivery, funded outside the annual appropriations process, will remain unaffected.

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Two million federal workers could be affected

The shutdown could affect around two million federal workers and 1.3 million active-duty troops. 

Some civilian employees will be furloughed.

Others must work without pay, especially in public safety and national security roles.

For example, airport security agents and Border Patrol officials.

The military would continue operations during a shutdown without pay.

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The shutdown will create financial challenges for troops and a worst-case scenario for the Defense Department. 

The prospect of mounting bills for essential expenses, like groceries and rent, is a significant concern.

The Biden administration has initiated preparations for the shutdown, instructing agencies to update their plans for operating without funding. 

The shutdown could affect food and water inspections, nutrition aid, cancer research, and financial assistance to communities recovering from natural disasters.

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Massive challenges for government agencies

Agencies will likely face severe operational challenges, operating with only a fraction of their staff. 

For example, the Department of Housing and Urban Development warned a long-term lapse could force it to discharge 82 percent of its workforce temporarily.

As negotiations continue on Capitol Hill, the situation remains uncertain. 

While some Senate Democrats and Republicans have discussed a potential compromise, this week’s resolution seems unlikely. 

Why could the US government shut down?

The government’s Anti-Deficiency Act, first passed in 1884, prohibits federal agencies from spending or obligating funds without an act of appropriation from Congress.

If congress fails to enact 12 annual appropriations bills needed to fund the government’s activities, all non-essential work must stop until the bills are passed.

If some are passed and some are not, then the agencies affected will stop normal functions, which is called a partial government shut down.

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