The federal shutdown so far — what you need to know

ST. PAUL -- The longest federal government shutdown in U.S. history is now a month old with no end in sight. How did we get here? What services are impacted? What are local leaders doing to help?

Here’s a primer:

What happens in a government shutdown?

When Congress and the president cannot agree on spending plans for various state agencies, those agencies run out of money and have to furlough workers and stop providing all but essential services. The departments cannot fully reopen until a new budget becomes law.

The current shutdown is a partial one; it affects nine of 15 federal agencies. Altogether they account for about a quarter of the federal budget that’s more than $1.3 trillion.

That means about 400,000 workers have been furloughed from the departments of Agriculture, Homeland Security, Interior, State, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, Treasury, Commerce and Justice.

Another 400,000 federal employees — including those focused on safety like the FBI, CIA and Transportation Security Agency — as well as workers in select roles at agencies like the IRS and state department continue to work but will not get paid until the government reopens.

They have to work because their services are deemed essential.

What are Congress and Trump fighting over?

Short answer: A wall.

President Donald Trump has refused to sign spending bills for the nine shuttered agencies unless the legislation includes $5.7 billion for a barrier at the southern border.

Democrats, who control the House of Representatives, have rejected that idea — noting that Trump long promised Mexico would fund the wall.

Instead, Democrats have offered up new funding for other border security measures. It’s a proposal Trump says isn’t good enough.

Even if Trump gets the $5.7 billion, it won’t be anywhere near enough to cover the cost of the barrier he wants to construct. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has estimated the wall will cost $20 billion or more.

Privately owned land will also be needed to build the wall. Several Texans recently told the Associated Press they would fight efforts to use eminent domain to take their land to construct the barrier.

What are state leaders doing to help?

Minnesota officials continue to study the full impact of the shutdown. Every month the state receives about $1 billion for federal programs like road maintenance, food stamps and vehicle inspections.

The state often covers the upfront cost of some programs and then gets reimbursed. The partial shutdown means some of those checks have stopped coming, and state leaders estimate Washington owes Minnesota about $100 million.

Gov. Tim Walz and Attorney General Keith Ellison want to make sure the state will get reimbursed for that money. Trump recently signed a bill guaranteeing federal workers back pay, but so far, reimbursements are not definite.

Nevertheless, state officials say Minnesota can fill the federal funding gap for essential services if necessary. What remains unclear is how long the state will do so and which programs will be covered.

How does it affect me?

The nine federal agencies without funding cover a wide swath of the government. Airport security, air traffic controllers and other essential government workers are not being paid.

Hundreds of federal programs are not receiving funding and risk running out of money, if they haven’t already. Funding for public aid programs, like food stamps and school lunches, as well as health care and other aid for Native Americans are at risk of running out of money.

Many federal services also are closed or running on a shoestring. Less than half of IRS workers are around to process tax returns, farmers can’t get information about the coming growing season or borrow money to buy seeds, national parks may be open without staff or services.

The longer the shutdown lasts, the more programs will run out of money, and the harder it will be for unpaid federal workers to get by.