A Government Shutdown Is A Real Possibility. Here's What That Would Mean Even a partial government shutdown would leave some 800,000 government workers without pay over the holidays, although many would remain on the job.
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Here's What Would Happen If The Government Shuts Down This Week

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Here's What Would Happen If The Government Shuts Down This Week

Here's What Would Happen If The Government Shuts Down This Week

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AILSA CHANG, HOST:

So as we just heard, it's still unclear at this point how a shutdown can be avoided since most lawmakers are out of town until later in the week. Even a partial shutdown of the government could have widespread impact. It could affect hundreds of thousands of federal workers. And it could shutter some federal facilities over the holidays, unless Democrats and the White House reach a deal. NPR's Brian Naylor reports.

BRIAN NAYLOR, BYLINE: A shutdown would affect nine federal departments and dozens of agencies. Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Justice Department would all be closed. So too would NASA and NOAA, the agency that oversees the weather service and tracks things like hurricanes. National parks would remain open, but be prepared to bring your own trail maps. Visitor centers will be closed, as will restrooms.

About 380,000 federal workers will be furloughed - that is, sent home - while another 420,000 will remain on the job, including Border Patrol and FBI agents and TSA officers. But they won't be getting paid. Jackie Simon is with the American Federation of Government Employees, the largest union representing federal workers. She says the partial shutdown will wreak havoc with the federal workforce just before the holidays.

JACKIE SIMON: Our members can't ever afford to go without a paycheck. They take home maybe $500 a week after taxes and all the other things that are taken out of their paychecks. And they got to pay their rent. They got to pay their car notes. And they live paycheck to paycheck.

NAYLOR: Now, in previous shutdowns, Congress has approved back pay for affected workers. But it's not a good look for the government. The Partnership for Public Service released its most recent survey of government workers earlier this month. And it showed what it calls employee engagement, a measure of job satisfaction, was down last year compared to previous years. Max Stier, the group's CEO, says shutting down the government is the biggest morale-killer possible.

MAX STIER: It really ought not to be viewed as a reasonable pawn in political battles. Everyone gets hurt. We're talking about the employees and the damage it can do to employee engagement. But fundamentally, the public gets hurt.

NAYLOR: That's because functions important to public health and safety don't get done as well as they could otherwise, Stier says. Even planning for a shutdown diverts energy.

STIER: People don't realize even when there is not actually a shutdown that what has taken place inside the government is a ton of preparation for a potential shutdown. And it becomes itself a huge distraction that is costly.

NAYLOR: This would be the third shutdown during President Trump's almost two years in office, one he said he would welcome. But he may not be around to see it. The president is expected to leave the White House for a 16-day stay at his Florida resort. Brian Naylor, NPR News, Washington.

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