President Barack Obama says of the government shutdown: “The longer this goes on, the worse it will be.”
How much worse is still an open question. Nobody has been through this in 17 years, and federal agencies are scrambling to make adjustments. But more examples are emerging each day of the damage that a prolonged shutdown would wreak.
Here are some examples of what would happen if the shutdown stretched days, weeks or even months.
Monday, Oct. 7: Sikorsky Aircraft of Connecticut, which sells helicopters to the Defense Department, says it will be forced to furlough 2,000 workers in Connecticut, Florida and Alabama.
Friday, Oct. 11: United Technologies, a major defense contractor, says it will be forced to furlough 4,000 workers at two of its companies, Pratt & Whitney and UTC Aerospace Systems. Sikorsky says it will furlough 1,000 more.
Saturday, Oct. 12: Football Saturday for the service academies: Army hosts Eastern Michigan, and Navy is at Duke. Those games are up in the air — but college football is such a moneymaker that private donors would probably step in. Private donations are covering the Oct. 5 games, and military officials say the NCAA, CBS Sports and United Airlines all offered to help.
Tuesday, Oct. 15: The final deadline to file your 2012 tax return, provided you got an exemption for the regular April 15 deadline. If you owe the government money, it’s still due — but if you’re having math trouble, you probably won’t get anyone at the IRS on the phone to help.
Wednesday, Oct. 16: Federal courts could shut down. Administrators say the courts will stay open for roughly the first 10 business days of the shutdown, but they say they would have to reassess matters on Oct. 15.
Thursday, Oct. 17: The Big One. The date at which the federal government exhausts its ability to borrow money, unless Congress raises the limit it can borrow — negotiations increasingly likely to be tied up with talks on the shutdown. After Oct. 17, the Treasury would have about $30 billion on hand, enough to cover only a few days. Predictions for the fallout in the financial markets are catastrophic.
Late October: Claims processing for the Veterans Administration’s pension, education and job-training programs can continue through late October. After that, claims processing and payments will be suspended at an unspecified date when the money runs out, spokesman Randal Noller says.
Friday, Nov. 1: Already, as many as 19,000 children in 11 states have been left out of Head Start programs because grant money ran out Sept. 30. Sally Aman, a spokeswoman for the National Head Start Association, says she is unsure how many more children would be left out if the shutdown reaches Nov. 1, but local Head Start programs renew annual grants throughout the year, so thousands more would almost certainly be affected.
Sunday, Nov. 17: The National Retail Federation said Thursday that the next 45 days will make or break the holiday shopping season, which is critical for stores and the overall economy. For now, the federation forecasts Americans will spend $602 billion this year, about 4 percent more than last year, but it warns that consumer confidence could wither if the shutdown wears on.
Monday, Nov. 18: A 20-day launch window opens for Maven, an unmanned NASA spacecraft intended to explore the atmosphere of Mars. Jared Espley, a NASA space scientist, said on Twitter this week that the spacecraft was being put into “hurricane-proof storage” instead of loaded onto a rocket. The Maven launch was later declared exempt from the shutdown.
‘Each day that goes by’: That’s often how the danger increases for intelligence services, Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper told Congress this week. About 70 percent of the intelligence services’ civilian workforce has been furloughed. “The danger here,” Clapper said, “will accumulate over time.” He cited information lost because he has fewer people to track targets.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.
First published October 5 2013, 1:13 AM