What a Government Shutdown May Mean for You

Updated September 28, 2023 

Our office has compiled the following general information about what you might expect if the government is shut down. It is important to know that, in the past, agencies and others may have operated differently. We will update this webpage on a rolling basis, as we receive new information. Additionally, the Office of Management and Budget’s Contingency Plan includes more detailed guidance for all federal agencies and sub-agencies—including the Social Security Administration, the Small Business Administration, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, and more.  

I submitted an inquiry to a federal agency through your office. What will happen during the shutdown?

Our office is continuing to submit inquiries to federal agencies on constituents' behalf, but things will vary from agency to agency. Some agencies will process cases, while others will not. Generally speaking, you should expect delays. Please contact our office for specific details about your case. We will provide you with an update as soon as it is available.

I have a trip to Washington, D.C. planned in the near future. What should I expect?

During a government shutdown, the Capitol Visitor Center will be closed and there will be no public tours of the U.S. Capitol building. All Library of Congress buildings, the U.S. Botanic Garden, the White House, the National Archives, the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Treasury, and the FBI Building will be closed to the public.

Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo will continue operating through at least Saturday, October 7. If the shutdown lasts longer, further assessments will be made as to whether they will remain open.

Please monitor this webpage for further updates as they become available.

I would like to purchase a flag flown over the U.S. Capitol. Can I still request one?

No. The U.S. Capitol Flag Office will be closed during the shutdown, so flag requests cannot be processed.

Federal Employees

I am a federal employee.  Will I receive back pay for furloughed days? 

Yes.  After the 2018-2019 partial shutdown, Congress passed the Government Employee Fair Treatment Act, which requires retroactive pay for furloughed employees following the end of a government shutdown. Generally, benefits such as health insurance continue during a shutdown furlough; however, federal employees may need to wait until they are returned to pay status before they can adjust their benefits.

The Office of Personnel Management's website also provides general guidance.

I am a government contractor.  What should I expect?

Government facilities will be closed.  No new contracts or modifications will be issued, and there will be delays in the acquisition process for procurements. 

Department of Agriculture

I rely on food assistance programs.  What should I expect?

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients will still receive benefits through October. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service establishes monthly SNAP benefits the month prior, so payments for October were already processed in September. If the shutdown continues beyond mid-October, SNAP benefits may be delayed or interrupted entirely.

Child Nutrition Programs, including the School Breakfast Program and the National School Lunch Program, will not be immediately affected by the government shutdown. A prolonged shutdown could lead to administrative delays as federal workers for the programs may be furloughed.

Additional funding for other nutrition programs, such as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), will stop immediately and programs may only continue to be administered while resources remain available.

Department of Defense

I am a member of the military. How will the government shutdown affect me?

All active-duty military personnel will continue to carry out their assigned duties, but they will not receive pay until the government reopens and funds are appropriated. Civilian personnel who are necessary to carry out excepted activities will continue to work, but they will not be paid. Any civilian personnel who are not considered essential will be furloughed.

Department of Education

I have a federally issued student loan.  How will this impact payments and administration of student loans?

The Department of Education will continue to issue loans and process Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) applications.  If you have federal student loans, you should continue to make your payments on time.  Payments that were paused during the three-year payment pause will still resume in October. 

Environmental Protection Agency

Will the EPA continue to disperse permits to states?

Certain EPA approvals related to intergovernmental agreements, permits, and for pending state requests (i.e., authorized/delegated state-issued EPA permits, State Implementation Plans, Total Maximum Daily Loads, Water Quality Standards) will cease.

Department of Health and Human Services

I am on Medicare.  Will I still be able to see my doctor?

Medicare benefits will continue during a government shutdown and health care facilities will still accept Medicare patients.

I am on Medicaid.  Will I still be able to see my doctor?

Medicaid benefits will continue during a government shutdown and health care facilities will still accept Medicaid patients.

Will I be able to file a Medicare claim?

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will experience staffing shortages, which will affect the agency’s ability to process claims in a timely manner. You should expect delays in the processing and payment of Medicare claims.

I am a health care provider and accept Medicare patients. How will I be affected?

Because CMS will experience staffing shortages, the agency’s ability to perform administrative tasks and process payments may be impacted. Providers may experience delays in receiving payments from Medicare.

Will Federally Qualified Health Centers continue operating?

Day-to-day operations will depend on the clinic’s individual funding and you should contact your preferred health center for further guidance.

My kids are enrolled in a Head Start program. How will they be affected?

Day-to-day operations will depend on the program’s individual funding. You should contact your child’s Head Start program for further guidance.

I rely on food from Meals on Wheels. How will I be affected?

Federal funding for Meals on Wheels programs could be delayed, which could force programs to reduce, delay, or suspend services altogether. Operations will vary at different Meals on Wheels programs. You should contact your preferred provider for further guidance.

Department of Homeland Security

What impact will the government shutdown have on the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)?

If the government shuts down on September 30, 2023, FEMA will pay out valid claims on existing NFIP policies until program funding runs out. During a shutdown, new policies will not be issued and renewals will be paused.

If I have an interview or appointment with U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS), should I attend? 

Yes. Biometrics appointments and interviews continue to be scheduled and conducted.

I have a pending application with USCIS. Will it continue to be processed? 

USCIS will continue to operate as usual, including accepting and adjudicating immigration-related applications and petitions.

I am a business owner and am hiring new employees.  Can I use E-Verify to verify a new hire’s eligibility to work?

No. E-Verify services will be suspended during the shutdown.

Can I apply for Transportation Security Administration (TSA) PreCheck and Global Entry?

TSA PreCheck applications will be accepted. Global Entry appointments for enrollment will be canceled.

I have flights booked for an upcoming trip.  How will this affect my travel?

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials operating ports of entry are considered essential workers and will report to work. Ports of entry–including airports–will remain open, and inspection of noncitizens seeking to enter the U.S. will continue. In prior shutdowns, there have been some delays and long wait times at TSA checkpoints.

TSA agents are also deemed essential workers and will also be required to report to work and work without pay until the government reopens. Travelers should expect long wait times at TSA checkpoints.

Will the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) be operating if there is a natural disaster?

During prior shutdowns, most of FEMA's workforce was able to be dispatched to emergencies, but their funding source–the Disaster Relief Fund–is currently under extreme stress and in urgent need of additional funds.  Employees at FEMA are not expected to be put on furlough; however, limited funds may impact FEMA’s ability to respond fully to an emergency.  FEMA is currently limiting rebuilding projects in order to preserve funds for life-saving emergency response. 

Department of Housing and Urban Development

I am in the middle of buying a house.  Will my Federal Housing Administration (FHA)-insured loan still close?

FHA will have limited staff during a shutdown and the processing or closing of FHA-insured loans may be delayed.  The longer the shutdown lasts, the more serious the impact will be.  All FHA underwriting and processing requirements would remain in force during the government shutdown and no loan may be endorsed that does not fulfill those requirements.

A shutdown may delay the processing or closing of your FHA-insured loan.  Please contact your lender for the exact status of your FHA loan.

For more information, please see the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Contingency Plan here.

I am facing foreclosure on an FHA-backed loan. Does the clock stop?

No.  Most loss mitigation for homeowners facing foreclosure (including FHA loan modifications, FHA-HAMP, etc.) will continue. 

I have an ongoing contract with HUD that has been funded. Can I continue to work on the contract?

It depends.  Only contracting officers may instruct vendors regarding changes to the contract terms and conditions during a government shutdown. For more information, please see the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Contingency Plan here.

Department of the Interior

I have a trip planned to a national park in the near future. What should I expect?

All of the country’s 425 national park sites will be closed during the government shutdown.

Internal Revenue Service

I requested an extension to file my taxes.  What should I expect?

If you requested and were granted a federal tax extension, you still have until October 15 to file your tax return.  The IRS has confirmed that, should there be a government shutdown this fall, the agency will remain fully operational.  The IRS will use money from the Inflation Reduction Act to keep its doors open.  All IRS employees will report to work and will be paid in a timely manner. 

Department of Justice

Will federal courts still be open?

The Department of Justice announced on September 19, 2023 that federal courts will remain open and continue operations for at least two weeks after a shutdown begins.  In prior shutdowns, the federal judiciary had the ability to remain open in some capacity and avoid furloughs by balancing court fees and other funds not dependent on Congressional appropriations.  Some court proceedings may be delayed, however, if a lawyer from an executive branch agency who is involved in the case is furloughed. 

I applied for a gun permit.  Will this be processed?

No. Criminal enforcement and related operations will continue at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, but the processing of permit applications will not.

Postal Service

Will my mail still arrive?

In the event of a government shutdown, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) will continue to deliver the mail.

Will post offices continue operating?

USPS operations will not be interrupted in the event of a government shutdown, and all post offices will continue to operate as usual.

Small Business Administration

Can I apply for a small business loan?

If the government shuts down, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) typically stops processing new loans and approving routine small-business loans.

I am waiting on a small business loan.  What should I expect?

Processing for most SBA lending programs will be on hold while the agency's employees are furloughed.  All Houston SBA employees will be furloughed.  Some disaster functions at SBA will continue, but at a limited level. 

Social Security Administration

Will I continue to receive my Social Security or Supplemental Security Income checks?

Yes.  During a government shutdown, recipients will continue to receive their Social Security and SSI checks.

I lost my Social Security card.  Can I request a replacement card?

Yes.  The SSA will continue to issue original and replacement Social Security cards in the event of a government shutdown, but you should expect delays because of decreased staff capacity.

I have a hearing scheduled.  Will that still occur?

Yes.  The SSA plans on continuing hearings and deciding cases as scheduled. 

I submitted an application. Will that be processed?

Yes.  SSA plans on processing applications for benefits, including appointments, corrections, requests for appeals, and post-entitlement actions. 

For detailed guidance from the SSA on the potential lapse in Federal appropriations and resulting partial shutdown of agency operations, click here.

Department of State

I have an upcoming international trip and need to request or renew a passport.  What should I expect?

The Houston Passport Agency will remain fully operational.  Passport applications will be processed and emergency passport appointments will be honored.  

For more information on how to request an emergency appointment at the Houston Passport Agency, click here

I am a United States' citizen living abroad. Will the local United States embassy be open?

Yes.  During the 2018-2019 partial shutdown, United States embassies remained open to some degree, but U.S. citizens living abroad should prepare for delays in any application or processing requests as staff furloughs may occur.

Please note, hours of operations and service impacts may vary at each facility.  You can check which embassies and consulates may be impacted here

Department of Transportation

I am waiting for a permit from the Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. Will permits be issued during the government shutdown?

PHMSA will stop issuing new permits for hazardous materials.

Department of Veterans Affairs

Will VA clinics and hospitals continue operating?

Yes.  You will still be able to get your prescriptions filled and make appointments with medical providers in the same way you did before the shutdown.  All Veteran Health Administration (VHA) agencies will remain open and functional during a government shutdown.

I am a veteran.  Will I receive my pension on time?

Yes.  You will still receive your pension checks on time.

I am a disabled veteran.  Will I receive my benefits on time?

Yes. You will receive your disability benefits on time.  

I am a veteran student who receives benefits under the GI Bill or the Veterans Educational Assistance Program. Will I continue to receive payments on time?

Yes.  You will receive your GI Bill benefits on time.  If you are under the Veterans Educational Assistance Program, you will receive your payments on time, as well.  


Will I be able to use grants.gov to search for and apply for grants on behalf of my organization?

Grants.gov will remain operational and continue to provide limited help desk and administrative assistance to applicants; however, response times may be delayed.

Will applications submitted through grants.gov be processed and reviewed throughout the shutdown? 

This varies between the 26 different grant-making agencies and offices.  Please contact your agency or office of interest for further guidance or click here for federal agency guidance.

Will funding awards be announced during the shutdown? 

Agencies that are closed during the shutdown will not announce awards.

I live in Texas’ Seventh Congressional District and I have additional questions about my grant that is not listed here.  Who can I contact?

You can email our grants manager at Dottie.Hall@mail.house.gov

I still have a question not answered above.  Who can I call?

You can call us and we will do our best to help you find an answer.  Our District staff will continue to work in the event of a government shutdown.  You can call our office at (713) 353-8680 or (202) 225-2571 or email here