Federal workers could feel gov't shutdown's sting

(CBS News) The Senate passed a budget bill Friday to keep the federal government from shutting down, but it faces a swift demise in the House, where Tea Party Republicans say they will not pass a budget unless they can delay or cut funding for Obamacare. There are only three days left to break the impasse and the president said this late Friday:

"It would throw a wrench into the gears of our economy at a time when those gears have gained some traction. And that's why many Republican senators and many Republican governors have urged Republicans to knock it off, pass a budget, and move on."

Senate passes stopgap spending bill; restores Obamacare funding
House Republicans shift Obamacare demands to next fiscal fight
What happens if the government shuts down?

A partial government shutdown would begin after midnight Monday night. So what would that mean?

Having been previously furloughed, Erika Townes, a nurse at a Maryland military base, could experience that again. She had to postpone her family vacation because they couldn't afford to go. CBS News

Erika Townes is a nurse at a military base in Maryland. She was furloughed earlier this year because of the across-the-board spending cuts known as the sequester, and she worries that she could be told to stay home again next week.

When Townes first realized that she might have another round of furloughs, she said: "'Are you kidding me? Are you freaking kidding me again? Seriously?'"

Her husband has multiple sclerosis, so her salary supports a family of six.

"We already have furloughed our vacation because we couldn't afford to go," said Townes."'I've already done my part, so to speak, and now you're going to take it away from me again?' That's not right and it's not fair."

If Congress fails to reach an agreement, more than 800,000 federal workers deemed "non-essential" -- out of a total workforce of more than 4.4 million -- are expected to be furloughed. Some, like Erika Townes, are civilians working for the military.

National parks, Smithsonian museums and passport offices would close. And applications for government-insured mortgages and small business loans would be on hold.

But most government functions would continue including mail delivery. Social Security checks would be processed, though there could be delays. Airport screeners, air traffic controllers and border guards would stay on the job. And the uniformed military would remain on duty. But all of their pay -- even troops overseas -- could be delayed.

Members of Congress are also exempt from furloughs -- and that makes Erika Townes angry.

"'You want to take our pay. What about your pay?'" she asked. "'Aren't you still going on vacation? Are you fixing peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, oodles of noodles now? Well why do we have to? If you want to trim the fat you should be trimming amongst yourselves first, not us.'"

The last time there was a government shutdown back in the mid-1990s, Congress eventually paid workers who had been furloughed. But this time might be different, because the two parties find it almost impossible to agree on anything.

  • Chip Reid

    Chip Reid is CBS News' national correspondent.