Due to an ongoing budget stalemate between Congress and the Obama Administration, at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday October 1, 2013 the U.S. federal government shut down. Until a compromise solution is approved by Congress and signed by the President into law, the shutdown will remain in effect.
For the duration of the shutdown, my offices in Washington, Champaign and Decatur will remain partially open. However, many federal government departments and functions will not be available during the shutdown. For answers on many routine services and common questions, please consult the Frequently Asked Questions below:
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS -- GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN
Will my Social Security checks be issued?
Social Security payments should continue to current beneficiaries. New applicants and those who have recently submitted a change of address/direct deposit slip, or other changes may be affected.
Will I still receive Medicare and Medicaid benefits?
According to the Congressional Research Service (CRS), current Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries and providers should not be affected by a government shutdown. Medicare has 30 days to pay providers and payments. For new enrollees, they will likely not be processed or able to enroll in Medicare. Since Medicaid is a state-run program, and the funds are paid in advance to the states by the federal government, new enrollment would likely continue. CRS did detail that the agencies have considerable discretion when it comes to how it will continue to run.
Will my medical services provided through the VA be affected?
No. The VA's medical services, medical facilities, and medical support & compliance accounts will not have a disruption in their services. However, other services including VA call centers and hotlines, decisions on claims appeals or motions by the Board of Veterans Appeals, recruiting and hiring of veteran job applicants, VA Secretary correspondences with veterans and VSOs, and outreach and public awareness activities will be impacted.
Will my passport or visa application be affected?
No. The Department of State says, "consular operations domestically and overseas will remain 100% operational as long as there are sufficient fees to support operations."
Will the postal service still deliver mail?
Mail services will still continue as normal.
Will military personnel be paid?
Yes. Congress approved and President Obama signed into law an order that ensures active duty military and select "essential" civilian personnel are paid on-time despite the shutdown. The 1998 guidance on a shutdown directs that "All military personnel shall continue to report for duty." Not all units will continue to operate, however, and military personnel may be assigned to other than their regular duties.
Will security operations at airports, nuclear facilities, U.S. borders and military installations continue?
Yes, essential security and monitoring personnel will continue to perform their duties, including law enforcement/security personnel, air traffic controllers etc. Additionally, personnel at the National Weather Service who perform essential services dealing with public safety such as warning forecasts for severe weather, fire weather services, ongoing flood monitoring etc., will be maintained.
Will the public have access to federal buildings/properties?
Generally-speaking, all federal properties will be closed to the public and non-essential personal. Essential maintenance and security services will continue. This will mean closures of courthouses (yet courts and other essential offices will be open only for emergencies) and other government properties to the public.
Will National Parks be open?
No. During a government shutdown parks will be closed.
Our family is planning on visiting Washington, D.C. next week. Will your office be able to help us with tours? Will Smithsonian museums be open?
No. Unfortunately, the Capitol Visitor Center, all federal museums and federal buildings will be closed. Once the federal government shutdown ends, my office will again be able to assist with scheduling tours.
Will government websites have current information despite the federal shutdown?
No. As federal departments and agencies will be shutdown, information available on their respective websites will not be the most current available. Individuals needing information are encouraged to call 1-800-FED-INFO (1-800-333-4636) where information specialists are available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST to answer questions. This call center will be open despite the shutdown.
How long will the government shutdown last?
Until there is a budget solution passed by Congress and signed by the President. For perspective, the last federal government shutdowns were in 1995 & 1996 during the Clinton Administration. At that time, there were two separate shutdowns: 5 days (from November 14 through November 19, 1995) and 21 days (from December 16, 1995, to January 6, 1996).