How a Government Shut Down Would Affect the United Nations

The US Government is poised to shut down at midnight tonight because of the inability of appropriators in congress to pass a budget deal.  This will have wide ranging effects across all branches of government. Workers will not just be sent home, but barred from working.  Only the most essential government employees will stay on the job.

But how will this affect US foreign policy and diplomacy at the United Nations? Not very much, actually.

State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters earlier today that “the vast majority of [State Department] operations will continue” and there are no plans for furloughs as of yet. This is in part because State Department is considered part of the “national security cone” and also because of some unique budgeting. “The Department of State can be sustained on a limited basis for a short period of time,” she said, but declined to cite a specific number of days or weeks.  Because of certain budgetary provisions, the State Department has enough in its bank to keep going for a while, that includes consular services (which are funded through visa and passport application fees) and also foreign aid programs.  “The vast majority of staff will not be affected by a government shutdown,” she said.

If this shutdown drags on, we can probably expect some operations to become scaled back. For now, though, the State Department and US-UN are planning to operate as normal.