The partial government shutdown that began during the quiet of the holidays is about to become the longest in the nation’s history. And on Friday, it will start truly hitting home for hundreds of thousands of federal employees: For the first time, their scheduled paychecks will not arrive.
The missed payments will represent a turning point in the three-week standoff, inflicting a damaging financial burden on federal workers and deepening the impact on the broader economy. But it would only get worse from there if the impasse dragged on indefinitely. A shutdown of unprecedented length—one that, in President Donald Trump’s words, could last “months, or even years”—would have unprecedented adverse effects on national life, reaching corners of American society that have previously viewed the constant partisan budget fights in Washington as an abstraction.