Dear Friend,

Federal funding to keep the government open is about to run out.  This situation could have been prevented.  If Congress is unable to reach an agreement with the White House, the federal government will be shutdown tonight at midnight eastern time.  Senate leadership has refused to make any serious effort to keep the doors open.  They have refused to pass a spending bill that would cut just one percent of our federal spending for this fiscal year.  The ball has been in the Senate’s court for weeks now and they have refused to act.

While we don’t know yet for sure if Senator Reid will shut down the government, it would be irresponsible not to prepare for that possibility.  I want to make you aware of how this could impact you and your family:  

Veterans’ Benefits:  Disabled veterans will continue to receive their benefits; however, new enrollees may see delays in receiving their benefits. Survivor benefits will be treated the same with new claims experiencing potential delays.  Veterans’ medical care would not be impacted by a shutdown.

Military:  Active military personnel will be required to report to duty, and overseas missions will continue.   However, military personnel will not be paid unless funds are appropriated by the Congress and signed into law by the President. 

Government Benefits:  Social Security benefit checks will not stop during a government shutdown.  Medicare benefits will continue to be paid on time as long as a shutdown does not go beyond two weeks.  Unemployment benefits are not expected to be impacted by a shutdown. 

FHA Mortgage Loans:  A shutdown will cause the FHA to temporarily lose the ability to endorse or insure new loans.  Some lenders may choose to go forward with the loan at closing, but they have less of an incentive to do so because they will have to assume the risk that FHA normally would.

Mail Delivery:  Because the U.S. Postal Service is essentially funded through the sale of postage, mail delivery, retail service, and all other USPS necessary operations would continue.

Passport Offices:  The State Department has not yet issued final guidance on this issue.  However, we anticipate a similar situation to what occurred during the shutdown in the mid-1990s, when processing was cut back to include only emergency passport and visa issuance.  Because of this, nearly 200,000 US applications for passports reportedly went unprocessed. 

Border Patrol Agents, Air Traffic Controllers, and TSA Screeners:  Border patrol agents, Air Traffic Controllers, and TSA screeners will continue to report to work and operate as normal. 

Federal Prisons: Prison security personnel will continue to report to work.  However, there may be furloughs at administration offices within prisons.

Tax Returns:  The IRS will have a minimal level of staff present, and there will be some staff available for handling filings and refunds.  If the government does not provide a refund within 45 days, the government will be required to pay interest.

In the event of a shutdown, both my Washington and Fort Worth offices will remain open, but will be operating with limited staff.  Constituents may continue to call, but casework will be delayed due to furloughed staff at other federal agencies.

Kay Granger