The partial shutdown continues into its third week, with dueling plans in the Senate and in the House to reopen the government and avert a U.S. debt default. Treasury says it will run out of money to pay its bills if Congress doesn't increase its borrowing authority by Thursday.
The shutdown has had far-reaching consequences for some, but minimal impact on others. Mail is being delivered. Social Security and Medicare benefits continue to flow. But more than 400-thousand workers remain furloughed and many national landmarks and offices closed. Some national parks are reopening, though, with tourists able to once again visit Mount Rushmore National Monument in South Dakota, thanks to a deal with the state, corporate sponsors and the National Park Service.
A look at how services have been affected, and sometimes not, by Congress failing to reach an agreement averting a partial government shutdown:
Social Security and Medicare benefits continue to be paid out, but there could be delays in processing new disability applications. Unemployment benefits are also still going out.
The Social Security Administration is delaying the announcement of the size of next year's cost-of-living adjustment, which was supposed to be released Oct. 16. According to an analysis by The Associated Press, preliminary figures suggest next year's benefit increase will be roughly 1.5 percent. The increase will be small because consumer prices, as measured by the government, haven't gone up much the past year. For the second year in a row, it would be one of the lowest raises since automatic adjustments were adopted in 1975.
Federal air traffic controllers remain on the job and airport screeners continue to funnel passengers through security checkpoints. Furloughs of safety inspectors had put inspections of planes, pilots and aircraft repair stations on hold, but the Federal Aviation Administration says it asked 800 employees — including some safety inspectors — to return to work. More than 2,900 inspectors had been furloughed. The State Department continues processing foreign applications for visas and U.S. applications for passports, since fees are collected to finance those services. Embassies and consulates overseas remain open and are providing services for U.S. citizens abroad.
Federal courts, which have been using fees and other funds to operate since the shutdown began, will likely have enough money to operate until Oct. 17, and possibly Oct. 18.
After that, the courts will run out of money and shut down all nonessential work.
A limited number of workers would perform essential work, while all others would be furloughed. Each court would make a determination on what is essential and nonessential. Judges would still be able to seat jurors, but the jurors won't be paid until Congress provides funding. Court-appointed lawyers would also not get paid.
The Supreme Court opened its term Monday and says its business will go on despite the ongoing shutdown. The Supreme Court announced Thursday it would stay open through Friday, Oct. 18, including hearing two days of arguments this coming week.
Veterans are still able to get health care through VA hospitals and outpatient clinics because Congress approved funding for VA health care programs one year in advance.
The department administers numerous benefits for veterans and survivors such as disability pay, pensions and tuition reimbursement. The VA has warned Congress that it will be unable to make next month's payments for those various benefits if the shutdown continues into late October. This would affect more than 5 million veterans.
Even though the vast majority of VA workers remain on the job, some services have suffered. The department's efforts to reduce the disability claims backlog has faltered largely because processors are no longer being required to work 20 hours of overtime per month.
Veterans also rely on a variety of programs offered through other departments. The Small Business Administration has halted training and counseling for veterans trying to start a business. The Department of Labor has largely ended its job training services for veterans. The Department of Housing and Urban Development is not issuing vouchers to newly homeless vets, though those already receiving housing vouchers will still get them.
Homebuyers and sellers in rural areas face delays in closing on loans backed by the Department of Agriculture. They'll need to wait until the shutdown is over for their deals to go through because the USDA's rural development loans are frozen.
The USDA loans are popular with first-time homebuyers because there's no down payment requirement. Lenders say the loans are an early housing-related casualty of the shutdown, though they account for just a slight percentage of the overall mortgage market.
Because of government agency closures, some lenders are having trouble confirming applicants' income tax returns and Social Security data. Some banks have eased their rules to give borrowers ways to work around the problem on a temporary basis. That's helped prevent big backlogs, but many housing industry officials worry that problems could worsen if the shutdown is prolonged.
Furloughs at the Federal Housing Administration are slowing the agency's processing of loans for some low- to moderate-income borrowers and first-time homebuyers. About 15 percent of new loans for home purchases are insured by the FHA. Condominium loans are not being processed by the FHA.
FHA officials, meanwhile, are urging lenders to provide relief for borrowers who face economic hardship due to the shutdown.
The military's 1.4 million active-duty personnel remain on duty. About half of the Defense Department's civilian employees were furloughed, but Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered nearly all 350,000 back on the job. Congress has ensured $100,000 payments to families of fallen service members would continue, passing a bill signed by President Barack Obama on Thursday. The payments had been suspended during the shutdown, prompting the Fisher House Foundation to volunteer to make the payments until the program got up and running again.
The military has also stopped providing tuition assistance for service members taking college courses during off-duty hours.
HEALTH AND RESEARCH
New patients are generally not being accepted into clinical research at the National Institutes of Health, but current patients continue to receive care. NIH has made rare exceptions, about a dozen in the first week of the shutdown, to allow patients with immediately life-threatening illnesses into research studies at its renowned hospital. Normally, about 200 new patients every week enroll in studies at the NIH's research-only hospital, many of them after standard treatments have failed. Medical research at the NIH has been disrupted as some studies have been delayed.
With two-thirds of personnel sent home, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been severely limited in spotting or investigating disease outbreaks such as the flu or that mysterious MERS virus from the Middle East. The FDA has halted the review and approval of new medical products and drugs.
All national parks closed when the shutdown began, but the Obama administration said Thursday it would allow states to use their own money to reopen some of them.