Social Security checks to seniors would continue to flow, and air travel wouldn't be disrupted. But national parks could close, and federal agencies could be unable to conduct background searches for gun permit requests.

Those are among the many consequences of a government shutdown if an interim spending bill is not enacted by the end of Friday.

Congressional leaders scrambled this week to avert a looming partial shutdown of the federal government. The 2021 fiscal year ended on Sept. 30, and lawmakers are haggling over a temporary proposal, which would likely run through Feb. 18, 2022.

Unless Congress meets a deadline of midnight on Friday, funding will run out for some programs and services. In the event of a partial shutdown, federal agencies will discontinue all "nonessential" discretionary functions, while "essential services" will continue. The halt in some services will continue until new funding legislation is signed.


Which category government services fall under is up to the discretion of the Office of Personnel Management, an executive branch agency.

Reuters reported that about three in five federal workers, out of a federal civilian workforce of approximately 2.2 million, could be furloughed or otherwise off the job. Others would work without pay until funding resumes. About 62% of employees at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control would be furloughed as the agency continues to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, including the possible threats presented by the new omicron variant. Other health services such as flu prevention measures would also be stalled.

According to the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, in previous shutdowns, border protection, in-hospital medical care, air traffic control, law enforcement, and power grid maintenance continued operations, and funding for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid continued, but with some delays. Applications for firearm permits and passports would likewise be delayed.

Social Security and Medicare checks would still be sent out, but services such as benefit verification and the creation of new cards could cease.

Some inspections by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration could be delayed, impacting sites with hazardous waste or drinking water. National parks and monuments closed during the 2013 shutdown, but many remained open during the 2018-2019 shutdown, although no visitor services were available, and the National Park Service reported damage and trash accumulation at sites across the country.


While air traffic control will continue, air travel could still be strained, as some air traffic controllers and Transportation Security Administration agents would work without pay and some would not report to work, leading to travel delays ahead of the Christmas season. The U.S. Postal Service will continue operations, as it is independently funded.

Shutdowns often briefly affect the stock market as well, with investors balking at the prospect of a shutdown but recovering shortly after a shutdown is resolved.