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Everything you need to know about the next potential government shutdown

Current funding will run out on February 8 if no deal is made


ROANOKE, Va. – It's been nearly two weeks since the first government shutdown since 2013 and time is running out on the temporary funding plan.

Here's what you need to know about the current negotiations and the potential for another shutdown.

What is a shutdown? A federal government shutdown happens when spending bills expire, and Congress and the president are unable to work out a new spending bill.

How common are shutdowns? There have been 18 shutdowns since 1976, according to the Congressional Research Service. The late January shutdown is the first in more than four years, since October 2013. That shutdown lasted for sixteen days. The most recent shutdown, on January 19, lasted for just 60 hours.

What did we learn from the January 2018 shutdown? One of the biggest impacts to note is where the blame has fallen.

"As far as government shutdowns are concerned, we're really in a new world," says 10 News Political Analyst Dr. Ed Lynch. "It has been the accepted wisdom going back to the Reagan administration that a government shutdown would always be blamed on the Republicans. That President Trump was successfully able to blame this on the Democrats really takes away from the Democrats a very potent weapon and changes the political calculations a lot."

An NBC News Poll conducted during the shutdown found 48 percent of Americans blame President Trump for the three-day shutdown. That's followed by 33 percent who believe Democrats are the most responsible. Just 16 percent of Americans blame the GOP.

If we just had a shutdown, why is another one approaching? To end the January shutdown and get thousands of furloughed federal employees back to work, a stopgap spending bill was passed -- funding the government for three weeks, until February 8.

That bill also included funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program, or CHIP. The program receives a six-year extension on its funding as part of the deal to end the January government shutdown.

With the temporary end of the shutdown also came a promise between Senate Democrats and Republicans for a future vote on immigration.

How can a shutdown be avoided? Immigration is expected to take center stage in the ongoing discussions. Lynch says a comprehensive approach to immigration is central to satisfying enough politicians on both sides to pass a deal.

"What that will probably come down to is President Trump will give in on the dreamers and DACA and Democrats will give in on funding the wall," he says. "I think that's a compromise that works for both sides. Trump and his supporters get something they very much want, greater border security. Democrats get something they want as well, which is security for the people who are already here."

When can we expect a deal? Discussions on a plan have been going on since the government shutdown ended. Lynch believes we may see an outline for a potential plan coming in the next few days, but the final touches could take until the very final minutes to iron out.

If there is another shutdown, who works and who doesn't? During the 2013 shutdown, as many as 850,000 workers were furloughed each day. In all, about 6.6 million employee work days were lost during the 16-day shutdown.

How does a shutdown affect the military? Active-duty military personnel have always been required to work through shutdowns. Troops don't abandon their posts or return home. Historically, many civilian workers in the Defense Department have also been ordered to work through shutdowns.

What does a shutdown mean for ordinary Americans? It's hard to tell based on how long the shutdown lasts, but here are some of the activities that stopped during previous shutdowns:

-National Park Service sites and national museums and monuments close to visitors. During the 2013 shutdown, the Blue Ridge Parkway was also closed to visitors.
-The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ceases disease surveillance
-Recruitment and testing of federal law-enforcement officers stops. In one case, the hiring of 400 border patrol agents was put on hold.
-Work on visa and passport services stops
- The IRS was unable to verify income and Social Security numbers in 2013, leading to a backlog of 1.2 million requests that may have delayed mortgage and loan approvals

Will a shutdown delay my tax refund? Possibly. According to a contingency plan that went into effect during the first shutdown, about half of the IRS staff (35,000 employees) were told to stay home. If that plan is put in place because of a potential shutdown in February, we could see a major slowdown in the time it takes to process returns and in turn, the time it takes for refunds to be sent out.

What happens to my mail? Nothing. The mail will keep coming because the U.S. Postal Service is not dependent on federal appropriations for its day-to-day operations.