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Video: Government shutdown: What's at stake for you?

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    >>> knows if the federal government will shut down this coming weekend, enough people in high level positions in washington believe it's enough of a possibility that parts of the federal government have to prepare for it. if the talks in washington fail, if the parties split further apart, the only question that matters tonight is how will this affect life in america and life where you live. it's where we begin tonight as these talks go on in washington , we go chicago. and nbc's john yang who has a look at what we all can expect. john, good evening.

    >> reporter: good evening, brian. it's not just rain, snow, heat and the dark of night that won't stop the u.s. mail , the government shutdown won't stop it either. but if there's no deal by midnight friday, there are a lot of things that will go away. if the federal government shut down, would anyone notice.

    >> nobody really knows what that means.

    >> washington does washington wants to do.

    >> reporter: it's not just washington . officials say an estimated 800,000 federal workers across the country could be idled out of a civilian workforce of about 2 million.

    >> some millions of americans, if government stays shut down beyond a weekend, are going to discover just what they count on the federal government for.

    >> reporter: according to administration officials, home buyers wouldn't be able to get federal home loan guarantees, potentially threatening an already fragile housing market . clinics at the national institutes of health would stop taking new patients and starting new clinical trials. applications for new and renewed passports and visas would halt. and national parks , museums and monuments, including the national zoo in washington , would close to visitors. the internal revenue service would stop processing paper tax returns , but you'd still have to pay on time if you want to avoid a penalty even if the shutdown lasts into next week. paper tax refund checks would stop, but so would audits. federal workers who protect lives and property would stay on the job. so the military would remain on duty around the world and their bases open, though their pay would be delayed. air traffic controllers , airport security screeners, border patrol and federal prison guards would stay on the job. v.a. hospitals would stay open and, unless the shutdown stretched from weeks to months, social security , medicare and medicaid benefits would continue. this whole fight is over cutting federal spending. so would a federal shutdown save money? not necessarily. the last time this happened the government shut down for 26 days at the end of 1995 into the beginning of 1996 and it cost taxpayers $1.4 billion. brian?

    >> i remember those days well. john yang starting us off in chicago tonight . john, thanks.

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