There is a high probability that our country will experience an unnecessary federal government shutdown when funds run out at 12:00am ET on October 1, 2023. 

While the Biden administration and a bipartisan group of House and Senate leadership reached a budget deal earlier this summer, a small group of extreme members of the Republican party are committed to forcing a shutdown. I will continue pushing my colleagues in Congress to act responsibly and keep our government open.

In the case of a shutdown, my office will remain open and available to serve you. 

Here is what you should know about how a shutdown might affect you and your family:

Potential impacts of a 2023 federal government shutdown

Serving your family

Some food assistance programs will continue operations in the short term, but the situation may change depending on the length of the shutdown and the depletion of funds:
  • The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will continue operations and eligible households will still receive monthly benefits.
  • The Child Nutrition (CN) Programs, including School Lunch, School Breakfast, Child and Adult Care Feeding, Summer Food Service and Special Milk will continue operations.

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) will cease after one month for the nearly seven million low-income women and infants who rely on the program for nutrition assistance.

Social Security checks will still go out, though there will be delays in the processing of new enrollees.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will be affected. An updated plan is in the works, but in the interim, taxpayers may call 1-800-829-1040 for general information.

Unemployment benefits will continue during a federal government shutdown. Connecticut administers compensation through State agencies.

Federal government retirees will continue to receive their scheduled annuity payments on the first business day of the month.

Mail delivery will continue amidst a shutdown.

The Small Business Administration will be unable to accept, review, or approve any new business loans.

Education

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.

Colleges, universities, school districts, and vocational rehabilitation agencies that depend on federal funds to support key services and programs could be affected by an extended shutdown. Pell Grants and Direct Student Loans should continue as normal; however, students should contact their specific college or university with questions about federal financial aid – including pending awards for incoming students.

National parks, zoos, and museums will be closed to visitors.

Health Care

Medicare, which is considered an “essential service,” will remain up and running, and seniors will continue to get their benefits.

Existing Medicare patients can still see their health care providers, and those providers will continue to submit bills and receive payment for their services. Medicare Open Enrollment begins October 15 and closes December 7. Beneficiaries can compare coverage options on Medicare.gov.

The Open Enrollment Period for 2024 commercial health and dental insurance coverage begins November 1, 2023. Compare plans on the Access Health CT website and check out my webpage for more information.

Servicemembers

All active-duty military personnel and many law enforcement officers will remain at work but receive no pay until appropriated funds are available.

VA hospitals will likely remain open, the Military Health System (MHS) will continue to operate, as will the private sector under TRICARE. Patients should contact their hospitals or clinics to confirm appointments. There may be delays scheduling new appointments.

Pensions, disability benefits, education payments under the GI Bill or the Veterans Educational Assistance Program (VEAP) and VA life insurance payments for veterans will most likely be executed. Congress fully funded the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for fiscal year 2019.

Travel

There is a risk of significant delays and longer wait times for travelers at airports across the country, as air traffic controllers and TSA Officers are expected to work without pay.

If you are planning to travel and need a passport, obtaining one may be more difficult during a shutdown. If you have a scheduled appointment at a U.S. Department of State passport agency or center, please plan on keeping your appointment. Although the State Department operations may be closed, you should contact the facility to confirm your appointment since the shutdown might impact the facility housing a local passport agency. If you need to cancel your appointment, you may do so by visiting the Online Passport Appointment System or by calling 1-877-487-2778.

If you have an upcoming interview or appointment with U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS), you can expect to be able to apply for a visa. Although the Department of Homeland Security funding lapsed, USCIS is fee-funded, so it remains open and continues to process applications. You should attend interviews and appointments as scheduled. Please call 1-800-375-5283 for additional information.

United States citizens living abroad can expect embassies to remain open but should prepare for delays in any application or processing requests as staff furloughs may occur. Please know that the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) uses fees to fund many operations and expects to continue with scheduled interviews and appointments. Please call 1-800-375-5283 for additional information.

Online applications for TSA PreCheck are being accepted, but the Department of Homeland Security suspended Global Entry applications during the shutdown.

Grants

The federal grants website will remain operational, however there may be limited staff to provide assistance depending on the agency. The Grants.gov Contact Center phone number is 1-800-518-GRANTS, and their email is Support@Grants.gov.

This webpage is where I will post updated guidance so you can understand how a shutdown will affect your benefits, our communities, and the programs on which millions of Americans rely. You can also subscribe to my newsletter to receive updates in your inbox.

If you require assistance, please contact my office at (203) 333-6600.