Feb 23 The White House and the U.S. Congress
have until March 4 to reach agreement on a federal spending-cut
bill for the rest of this fiscal year -- or face a partial
shutdown of the U.S. government.
The threat of a shutdown seemed to ease on Tuesday when
House Speaker John Boehner raised the prospect of a short-term
bill. But there was no sign of an immediate deal.
It has been 15 years since the last federal government
shutdown over spending disagreements. Here are some facts about
what could happen:
* Hundreds of thousands of the 4.4 million federal workers
could be idled as nonessential, disrupting all but vital U.S.
services such as national defense, emergency medical care and
air traffic control. In addition, some employees of federal
contractors may also be furloughed.
* Unlike the last two shutdowns, both of which occurred in
the 1990s, this one would take place during tax preparation and
filing season. That could mean delayed tax refunds to an untold
number of Americans, congressional aides say.
* The last shutdown closed much of the federal government
from Dec. 16, 1995, to Jan. 6, 1996. National parks and museums
were closed, an estimated 200,000 applications for U.S
passports went unprocessed and work on more than 3,500
bankruptcy cases was suspended.
* Also during the last shutdown, new patients were not
accepted into clinical research at the National Institutes of
Health, hotline calls to NIH about diseases were not answered,
and toxic waste clean-up work at 609 sites stopped.
* A shutdown may be felt on a number of fronts, including
delays in approving import and export licenses, Social Security
applications and benefits for military veterans, congressional
* Essential personnel in the last shutdown -- employees who
remained on the job -- included members of the U.S. military,
federal criminal investigators, those involved in federal
disaster assistance and workers vital to keeping crucial
elements of the U.S. money and banking system up and running.
* Since 1980, all federal agencies have been required to
have updated plans for potential shutdowns that include who
would be furloughed and who would be kept on the job.
(Source: Congressional Research Service along with
congressional and administration aides)
(Reporting by Thomas Ferraro; Editing by David Alexander
and Eric Walsh)