Here’s How A Government Shutdown Could Change Your Holiday Plans

While many things will remain open, federal employees might face some inconveniences.

A "Closed" sign in front of a store
Tim Mossholder / Pexels

While many things will remain open, federal employees might face some inconveniences.

While Christmas won’t be ruined, there are still some things to prepare for if the government shuts down, CNN is reporting. Even though it’s likely just a partial shutdown, an entire quarter of the federal government is set to close Friday night, leaving 380,000 employees placed on furlough and another 420,000 having to work without pay. On a more positive note, holiday travels will still be possible despite the shutdown. The Transportation Security Administration will be screening passengers, and Federal Aviation Administration air traffic controllers will be directing planes.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection checkpoints will stay open and the State Department will continue to process passports. In addition, Amtrak will remain open, as it’s technically a federally owned corporation and not a government agency. Federal Railroad Administration inspectors will also work through the shutdown for safety reasons.

“Data shows that when Inspectors are not visible, less compliance is more likely to occur, which may lead to higher accident/incident rate,” the administration explained.

For those who sent gifts through the mail, you’re in the clear too. The Postal Service does not receive federal funds for its operations, so it won’t be hindered by the shutdown. Reportedly 16 billion packages and letters will be sent over the holidays. As per usual, post offices will close at noon on Christmas Eve.

Those who have a government job that involves protecting people are required to work during the shutdown. This means police officers will still be on duty, and National Aeronautics and Space Administration will keep mission controllers available to help astronauts currently on the International Space Station. This doesn’t leave NASA entirely unaffected, however — some research projects are being forced to screech to a halt, and NASA facilities will be closed to visitors.

Safety inspectors also remain on duty, such as workers for the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management, the Transportation Department’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, and the Agriculture Department’s Food Safety Inspection Services. The Consumer Product Safety Commission will also continue to function, but with less workers than usual who will be doing the bare minimum of what is required for safety purposes. The commission is set to recall products that “create a substantial and immediate threat to the safety of human life.”

Forecasters at the National Weather Service and earthquake monitors at the U.S. Geological Survey will continue to work too, despite them being a part of the Commerce Department and the Department of Interior, respectively. The Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security will remain working despite lack of funding also for safety reasons. Almost the entire Department of Homeland Security will remain open as well.

Overall, it appears that the shutdown won’t affect you — unless you are a federal government worker, as your paychecks can’t be cut when government agencies are closed. In addition, many workers will lose their prescheduled paid vacation time that many employees hoped to use over the holidays.