Your Guide to Staying Informed During the Potential 2023 Government Shutdown:

We are currently anticipating that the federal government will shut down on Sunday, October 1.  While the Biden administration and House and Senate leadership reached a budget deal earlier this Summer, some conservative members will no longer vote in support of the deal (more).  Unless an agreement is reached, the government will run out of funding at the end of this week. 

What does that mean for our constituents? If you require our office’s assistance, please reach out before September 30. Many federal agencies will be forced to furlough staff, which will slow response times and, in some cases, may suspend their services all together.  This may include but is not limited to passport appointments, assistance with Social Security, Medicaid, IRS as well as Veterans Affairs. You can reach our office by phone at 412-214-5000. You can also find our office hours and locations on our website.

If the government does shut down, our casework team will continue to work in order to respond to urgent cases. We appreciate your patience and kindness as our team navigates this difficult time. 

Here is a list of some federal services we expect may be impacted….

  • Kids May Lose Access to Head Start: Thousands of children across the country may lose access to Head Start, as the Department of Health and Human Services wouldn’t be able to award Head Start Grants during a shutdown.
  • Travelers May Face Significant Delays: Air traffic controllers and TSA Officers are expected to work without pay—potentially leading to significant delays and longer wait times for travelers at airports across the country like there were during previous shutdowns. 
  • Small Businesses Will Not Get New Loans from the SBA: The Small Business Administration will not accept, review, or approve any new business loans, in the event of a shut down.
  • Immigrants May See Their Court Hearings Canceled: Approximately 60,000 immigration court hearings for non-detained respondents were canceled during the last government shutdown.
  • Service members and Law Enforcement Officers Will Work Without Pay: All active-duty military personnel and many law enforcement officers would remain at work, but receive no pay until funds are available.

We deeply regret that the shut down will have severe impacts on some of our constituents’ lives. We will do everything in our power to help you during this difficult time and to help bring the government shut down to a close.

Questions you may have….

Will I be able to renew my passport?

Renewal and processing times of passports have already been delayed this year, and some passport services could be delayed during a shutdown, particularly if they are in agency buildings that are shuttered.

Will a shutdown impact WIC and SNAP benefits? 

Over 7 million Americans, including 177,335 Pennsylvania families, who count on the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) would lose their benefits and be turned away at grocery store counters. The SNAP program will continue, at least for the month of October. If the shutdown were to extend longer than that, there would be some serious consequences to SNAP.

Will I continue to receive my Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) checks?

Recipients would continue to receive their Social Security and Supplemental Security Income benefits. However, about 15% of the Social Security Administration’s staff would be furloughed, which could mean the delay or suspension of benefit verifications, replacement of Medicare cards, and determinations on disability claims.

Will my mail still arrive?

The U.S. Postal Service is an independent entity that is funded through the sale of its products and services, and would not be impacted by a government shutdown.

What is the impact on veterans’ services?

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) regional offices may close during a government shutdown. Regular operations, like career counseling, transition assistance, and cemetery grounds maintenance, could be impacted as well.

VA health care services and burials would continue, and the Department would also continue to process and deliver benefits to veterans, including compensation, pension, education and housing benefits.

Will I receive my tax refund?

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has not released an updated plan for operating during a potential shutdown. During previous shutdowns, taxpayer phone calls, taxpayer disputes and tax refunds were delayed.

What is the impact on medical research?

A government shutdown would stall critical research on diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s because the National Institutes of Health (NIH) would not be able to begin new clinical trials.

What is the impact on food safety?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) could be forced to delay food safety inspections for products in Pennsylvania  and across the country.

What is the impact on water quality?

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) efforts to identify and clean up harmful contaminants in drinking water will be delayed.

What is the impact on workplace safety?

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) could be halted in inspections for workplace safety.

What will happen to student loan assistance and federal Head Start programs?

The U.S. Department of Education has stated that student aid and loan programs could be disrupted, including processing Free Applications for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) applications, disbursing Pell Grants and Federal Direct Student Loans and servicing Federal student loans.

Thousands of children across the country would lose access to Head Start programs.

Will I still be able to visit the national parks and monuments?

During the last government shutdown, national parks, including campgrounds and concession stands, were closed. All Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo would close.

Will infrastructure projects be delayed?

A shutdown could delay major infrastructure projects due to a delay in federal reviews, including projects to modernize utilities in rural communities.

Which federal employees keep working during a government shutdown?

When there is a government shutdown, federal agencies are required to classify their employees as either “essential” or “non-essential.” The employees classified as “essential” continue to work during the shutdown but without pay. Employees classified as “non-essential” are laid off and without pay.

Do furloughed federal employees get back pay?

The Government Employee Fair Treatment Act, signed into law in 2019, guarantees that furloughed government employees receive back pay once a shutdown ends. However, federal contractors impacted are not guaranteed back pay.


If you didn’t find the answer to your question, please reach out to us!