If Congress fails to pass a spending bill on or before Jan. 19, the federal government will shut down. A shutdown would affect most of the major ways millennials interact with the government, but it’s far from a doomsday scenario.
A shutdown is a chance to see what the government actually does. It employs more than 2 million people, not counting those serving in the military. When millions of government workers get furloughed, what happens to millennials?
Let’s start with the obvious: If you’re one of the half-million millennial civilians working for the federal government, you’re probably not going to work or get paid during the shutdown. Don’t fret, though, D.C. bars offered tons of day drinking specials during the 2013 shutdown.
Next up, a crucial group of workers who won’t be day drinking during the shutdown: members of the military. Service members could face late paychecks – or no paychecks – should the shutdown occur. The people who process military paychecks get furloughed during a shutdown, and the Department of Defense lacks the legal standing to pay our men and women in uniform for work done during the shutdown period, according to Military.com.
It’s not all doom and gloom, though. Prior to the 2013 shutdown, Congress passed a law ensuring that the military would still get paid, though many payments were delayed. That law applied only to that fiscal year, however. Congress may or may not pass a similar bill this time around.
If you’re a recent (or not-so-recent) graduate still paying off loans, the shutdown won’t impact regular payments. The government still expects you to make payments, and will report you to a credit bureau if you don’t. The tricky part comes for people trying to make changes to their debt. If you’re looking to consolidate your debt, discharge your debt on grounds of being medically disabled, or have your debt forgiven because you teach in a school with dire needs, you won’t be able to do that until the government is up and running again.
A shutdown would put certain hallmarks of adulthood on hold indefinitely. If you’re trying to start a business, you won’t be able to get a government loan during the shutdown. If you’re trying to buy a home, congratulations on being one of roughly 11 millennials who can afford to own their own place, but unfortunately, you won’t be able to get a government loan, either, until the government is functioning again.
So why are we running into a shutdown deadline, again? Simply put, Democrats won’t agree to an immigration deal with Republicans that would permanently reauthorize the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The GOP has offered several proposals – most notably, amnesty for "Dreamers" in exchange for funding for the border wall – but Democrats won’t compromise. Democrats could choose to hold the government hostage until they get a permanent solution for DACA, and Republicans will take the blame.
The 2013 shutdown tanked public perception of the GOP, and unlike last time, Republicans have the White House and the Senate – not just the House.
The policy effects of the government shutdown last only as long as the shutdown itself, but the political ramifications may arrive in the midterm elections this November. In the meantime, happy shutdown eve! Trim your tree with government red tape, and be sure to leave milk and cookies out for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi – they’ll be coming down your chimney with a sack full of blame for Republicans.
Angela Morabito (@AngelaLMorabito) writes about politics, media, ethics, and culture. She holds both a Bachelor's and Master's degree from Georgetown University and has appeared on "On the Record with Greta van Susteren" as well as "Cavuto: Coast to Coast."