The last time the federal government shut down, in 1995 and 1996, the impact on the public was vast, according to a federal study published in 2010. While the report by the Congressional Research Service cautioned that “the effects on the public of any future shutdown would not necessarily reflect past experience,” it also said that past events may be “illustrative” of effects that are possible. Here’s are some examples of what they found:
Law Enforcement and Public Safety: Delinquent child-support cases were delayed; work on more than 3,500 bankruptcy cases was suspended; delays occurred in the processing of alcohol, tobacco and firearms applications.
Health: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ceased disease surveillance; toxic waste cleanup work at 609 sites stopped; hotline calls to the National Institutes of Health concerning diseases were not answered; and new patients were not accepted into clinical research at the NIH clinical center
Parks, Museums and Monuments: Closure of 368 National Park Service sites (loss of 7 million visitors) and closure of national museums and monuments (estimated loss of 2 million visitors).
Visas and Passports: Approximately 20,000 to 30,000 applications by foreigners for visas went unprocessed each day; 200,000 U.S. applications for passports went unprocessed; U.S. tourist industries and airlines sustained millions of dollars in losses.
American Veterans: Multiple services were curtailed, ranging from health and welfare to finance and travel.
Federal Contractors: Of $18 billion in Washington, D.C., area contracts, $3.7 billion (over 20 percent) were adversely affected by the funding lapse.