UNC professor on impacts of looming government shutdown


RALEIGH, N.C. – The clock is ticking on Saturday for the White House to avoid a government shutdown, which many see as all but inevitable before Sunday.

What You Need To Know

  • The Republican-controlled House has made little progress with coming to an agreement on a spending plan needed to avoid a government shutdown by Sunday
  • A shutdown happens when Congress fails to pass funding legislation that is signed into law by the president
  • If the government shuts down, federal agencies deemed as nonessential, affecting roughly 2 million employees and 2 million active-duty military troops and reservists, won’t receive paychecks

If Congress fails to pass funding legislation that gets signed into law by the president, federal agencies that are deemed as nonessential will not receive paychecks. That includes roughly 2 million employees and 2 million active-duty military members and reservists.

UNC-Chapel Hill political science professor Jason Roberts says the timing of the issue arises because the government’s fiscal year runs from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30.

“If new spending bills are not enacted, most things do shut down. That’s national parks, things like that,” he said. “Now, you know, the FBI will still function. The TSA people, the airport will still function. But many parts of the government will cease to operate this weekend.”

That includes positions like his neighbor’s, who is a researcher at the National Institutes of Health.

“He’s telling me that he’s going to lose a lot of research because they’re not allowed to go into their lab and continue to do things like that,” Roberts said. “People who work for the government will probably see their paychecks delayed. If you had vacations planned to go see some museums in D.C., you’re going to need to reschedule those trips.”

“So, there’s just a lots of fallout that can affect lots of people in different aspects of their lives,” he said.

Roberts said the solution is clear: the Senate, House and president need to sign off on a spending deal.

“It’s just a question of how long it takes… You have a group of members in the House who have no interest in voting for much of anything to keep the government open and the things that they would like to enact will never pass the House or the Senate or be signed by the president,” Roberts said.

“They’re going to shut the government down. They seem to want to do that. It’s just a question of how long they want to keep it shut down and what the fallout will be from the inevitable deal that occurs,” he said.


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