What has the US govt shutdown got to do with you?

What has the US govt shutdown got to do with you?

The United States government began shutting down its non-essential services early this week after its politicians failed to agree on a new budget for the financial year starting on Oct 1.

The impasse is largely a result of party politics, with the Republican-controlled House of Representatives pushing for cuts to President Barack Obama's health care act, and the Senate, controlled by Obama's Democrats, not budging.

Already, 800,000 federal workers have been forced to go on unpaid leave since Tuesday, with no guarantees of being paid later.

Now, there are fears the stalemate could drag on and complicate a separate but looming battle, over the raising of the country's debt ceiling. The US government is expected to hit this legal borrowing limit on Oct 17, and could run out of money to pay its debts if legislation is not passed to raise it.

Beyond the political implications, though, here are some ways the shutdown may affect you, some more detrimental than others.

1. US embassy stops providing non-essential services

The US embassy here might have replied to one of the last press questions in a while, when its spokesman said a few days ago that all non-essential services will be suspended. Apparently, dealing with the media is one such service. But Americans living here, and Singaporeans headed to the US for work and school have less to worry about, since the embassy will continue to provide consular and visa application services. The spokesman did not say what the other non-essential services are.

2. Lights-out at landmarks

Now is the perfect time to go to the US -- but probably only to shop and eat, because most of the other tourist destinations will be off limits. Famed national parks and monuments, from the Grand Canyon in Arizona to Yosemite Park in California and the Statue of Liberty in New York have been closed, with travellers camping in the parks asked to leave on Tuesday. Even roads leading to the parks have been blocked off where possible, so sneaking pictures will be hard. In Washington DC, all of the Smithsonian Institute's 19 museums and galleries have also been shuttered, including the National Gallery of Art, as well as the National Zoo.

With no access to all these places, you can bet on your Facebook feed soon being flooded with pictures of friends posing next to "closed" signs.

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