The Federal Budget Crunch


From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.


And I'm Michele Norris.

This Friday, midnight, that's the deadline for Democrats and Republicans to make a deal over this year's federal budget, and the stakes are high. If no deal is reached, the federal government must shut down. About 800,000 government workers would be furloughed without pay, and everything from the Treasury Department to the IRS to the National Parks will be impacted.

NPR's Liz Halloran is here to tell us how a government shutdown might impact all of us. And welcome to the program.

LIZ HALLORAN: Thank you, Michele.

NORRIS: Everyone is talking about what might be shut down during a shutdown. Are there services that will keep going?

HALLORAN: That's a good question. Actually, there are a lot of Americans following this and wondering, for example, whether their Social Security checks will show up in their mailbox. There's questions about national security during a shutdown. And here's the good news, Michele, people who already get Social Security checks will continue getting them. Medicare and Medicaid coverage will also continue during a government shutdown. And what will also continue is government activity that is, and let me quote the administration here, "necessary for safety of life and protection of property."

NORRIS: Give us a sense, Liz, of who, then, would be required to show up for work even during a shutdown.

HALLORAN: Well, that means that law enforcement employees will be expected to show up. Air traffic controllers will still be guiding planes. The Homeland Security Department will continue monitoring terrorism and nation's borders and other jobs that it does. And yes, like it or not, you're still going to get screened at airports.

NORRIS: So when we talk about necessary activity, what about the nation's military: troops overseas, workers here in D.C. or just across the river at the Pentagon?

HALLORAN: That's another terrific question. As you might expect, active military will not be told to leave their posts, obviously. In fact, the Pentagon is also working to keep as many civilian workers in place as possible, including and especially, those involved overseas in war efforts in Iraq, Afghanistan and now Libya.

For example, commissary worker in Afghanistan would be exempt from furlough but not a commissary worker at Camp LeJeune in North Carolina, for example.

NORRIS: I'm talking to NPR's Liz Halloran about who and what is considered to be essential in the event of a government shutdown.

We're going to hear now from two of our other reporters about federal services that are labeled non-essential, so they will be impacted by a possible shutdown.

And, Liz, if you would stay with us here in the studio, we'll come back to you after we hear these two reports.

Copyright © 2011 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor

Support comes from