What a Government Shutdown Would Look Like

If Republicans and Democrats can't agree to a new budget by March 4, the government will shut down.

SHARE

BY Aliyah Shahid
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

Time is ticking. If Republicans and Democrats can't agree to a new spending plan by March 4, the government will grind to a halt.

The last time America was crippled by a federal government shutdown over a budget showdown was in 1995 and 1996.

With only 10 days left—and neither side looking like it's willing to budge – the chances of a government shutdown increase. [Check out a roundup of political cartoons on the budget and deficit.]

Here's what it could look like, based on what happened in the mid 1990s:

Veterans' services: More than 400,000 veterans saw their disability benefits and pension claims delayed during the last budget standoff. Some services, including health and welfare, were curtailed.

Parks, museums, monuments: During the last government shutdown, 368 National Park Service sites closed, which resulted in a net loss of 7 million visitors. Monuments and national museums did not open.

Social Security: The Social Security Administration kept enough staff on hand to make sure benefits were paid out during the last shutdown. At its lowest point, many new claims were not initially processed and the SSA furloughed more than 60,000 employees.

Law Enforcement/Public Safety: There were delays in the processing of alcohol, tobacco, firearms and explosive applications by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. More than 3,500 bankruptcy cases were suspended. There was also the cancellation of recruitment and testing of federal enforcement officials—including the hiring of 400 border patrol agents. [See a slide show of the GOP's rising stars.]

Federal contractors: Of the $18 billion in D.C-area contracts, $3.7 billion (over 20%) were managed by agencies affected by the funding lapse. Employees of federal contractors were furloughed without pay.

Visas and Passports: Approximately 20,000 to 30,000 applications by foreigners for visas reportedly went unprocessed each day, and 200,000 U.S. applications for passports went unprocessed. Tourist industries and airlines lost millions in dollars of potential profits.

Government employees: During the five-day shutdown in 1995, approximately 800,000 "non essential" government employees were told not to come into work. But they were eventually paid retroactively.

So what won't be affected? Services that are deemed "essential" like national security and emergency services. During the last government shutdown, the post office still delivered mail and Social Security checks were eventually sent out.