LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – If lawmakers in Washington D.C. are not able to reach a deal on a funding bill the government shutdown could impact not just federal workers, but people who receive federal benefits across the country.
Economist Jeff Cooperstein said there could be effects on things like Social Security or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits.
“Let’s say the Social Security office is staffed very low, that means that any kind of services you need from the Social Security office are going to take more time for it to happen,” he said. “It becomes more difficult to sign up for government benefits during that time because of the number of people working the offices decreases.”
The ability to work for federal government employees depends on how essential their job is considered. Essential workers include air traffic control, people who do security at airports, border patrol and law enforcement. Those workers will keep working but won’t get paid until Congress acts. Anyone who’s considered non-essential doesn’t go to work and is later paid retroactively.
Cooperstein said while they all should eventually receive their pay it is a bad look for the economy and will have ripple effects.
“Anytime you’re taking money away from people, you have less spending,” he said. “A government shutdown right now coming right on the heels of the debt ceiling debate isn’t good in terms of just the global view of the American economy and its stability.”
Cooperstein said it is hard for anyone to prepare for a shutdown though those who plan to sign up for federal benefits should do so soon. Also, those who plan to travel abroad can get their passport now.
Representatives French Hill and Bruce Westerman shared statements on their work to avoid a shutdown in D.C.
“The House is working to pass conservative spending bills for 2024. These must be completed before September 30,” Hill stated. “This work is taking longer than anticipated so we may need to pass a short-term continuing resolution to avoid a shutdown of basic government services.”
“We are still working hard to avoid a government shutdown and bring fiscal sanity to our federal budget,” Westerman said.