Republican members of Congress have forced a shutdown of the U.S. government. Their paychecks are guaranteed. The rest of the nation's? Not so much.

I imagine it would be significantly less likely politicians would shut down the U.S. government if their paychecks were on the line. But they're not. Written into law through the Constitution (and never changed by Congress), members of Congress are guaranteed their $174,000 salaries. The rest of us, however, enjoy no such guarantees.

While the politicians responsible for the shutdown sit comfortably paid, hundreds of thousands of federal workers will either get furloughed or see their paychecks delayed.

And then there's us. Citizens, families, regular old people.

Families will be affected by this shutdown. Here's how:

  1. Federal employees and military members face furlough and delayed pay.

    "More than 2 million federal workers will see their paychecks delayed — and 800,000 of them might never get repaid" (source). I don't know about you, but my family relies on each and every paycheck my husband brings home. Even a week or two delay would have significant impacts on our life.

  2. National park closures.

    All national parks have closed, as well as the Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo in Washington. Campers in overnight campgrounds were given 48 hours to leave. Other visitor centers that have shut down are the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island in New York, Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Alcatraz Island near San Francisco and the Washington Monument. You also will not be able to make camping reservations during the shutdown, since the National Park Service website has shut down.

  3. WIC threatens closure.

    The food assistance program for women, infants and children (WIC) could shut down. According to Forbes magazine, "Over 8.9 million moms and kids under 5 living near or below the poverty line rely on the program's supplemental vouchers for healthy food, breastfeeding support, infant formula and other necessities dispensed at clinics nationwide… The USDA estimates that most states will be able to continue WIC operations as usual for "a week or so" before running out of money." In other words, poor women and children, one of our nation's most displaced and threatened populations, could be severely affected by this shutdown. I wonder if Congress members have any family members relying on WIC. Yeah. Probably not.

  4. Annual flu research halted.

    The CDC has shut down its flu program just as the flu season begins. The Washington Post reports: "'Every fall, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention monitors the spread of flu and figures out how best to direct vaccine programs around the country. During the shutdown, however, the agency will be 'unable to support the annual seasonal influenza program,' according to a memo from the Department of Health and Human Services."

  5. National Health Institute will turn patients away.

    This one is so sad it's almost unbelievable. "The National Institutes of Health says it will turn away roughly 200 patients each week from its clinical research center, including children with cancer" (source).

Head Start also faces closures if the shutdown continues past two weeks. Veterans and disability benefit-processing is also delayed, as is funding of federal loans for home purchases. For more information on the shutdown, you can click here.

I guess at this point we just hope the shutdown doesn't last long, and that people will mobilize in the future, urging our Congress members to change the law that shelters them from negative ramifications of their own political actions.

In this case, as in most, accountability is everything.

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