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Monica Hernandez / Eyewitness News
Email: mhernandez@wwltv.com | Twitter: @mhernandezwwl

NEW ORLEANS - Congress must agree on a spending bill by 11:59 p.m. Monday, or Americans will see a freeze in non-essential federal services.

National parks like the Chalmette Battlefield will close Tuesday morning if a partial government shutdown occurs.

The Republican-run House and Democrat-controlled Senate are at odds over the Affordable Care Act.

House Republicans say they won't pass a spending bill unless Senate Democrats also agree to delay or defund the health care law.

Democrats say the topic is another issue that should be debated separately.

The Senate is expected to reject a House bill Monday that would fund the government through Dec. 15 but delay the health care act and repeal a tax on medical devices that would have helped fund the legislation.

Since the House would have little time to respond, experts say a government shutdown is likely.

'It's not going to be catastrophic, but certainly the average American will see the effects,' said Ed Chervenak, professor of Political Science at the University of New Orleans.

If the shutdown does happen, uniformed military personnel would stay on duty, but their paychecks would be delayed. About 800,000 federal workers would be furloughed.

Experts say the longer a shut down lasts, the more it could impact the nation's fragile economic recovery.

'The biggest impact is basically you're taking money out of people's pockets and their purchasing power. Which of course we have a consumer driven economy. That will negatively the economy,' said Chervenak.

'I think people are going to be very upset and they're going to blame somebody. I'm not sure who, but they will blame somebody if they start missing paychecks,' said Clancy DuBos, WWL political analyst.

Even if a shut down does happen, you'll still see essential services like mail delivery. Social Security checks will be delivered and food stamp money will continue to be distributed, as will Medicare and Medicaid benefits. But other services could be hampered the longer a shut down lasts.

If the shutdown lasts longer than 10 days, federal courts like the one in New Orleans would have to begin furloughs of non-essential employees.

Taxpayers say it's fanning their frustrations.

'It's very frustrating that they can't work. Any other sector of your life, you'd be fired instantly for that kind of [thing]. It's just crazy,' said Teresa Johnston.

'I pretty much think they're just playing games between themselves,' said Tom Natal.

'This is interesting because it's not a Republican versus Democrat issue, it's actually a Republican versus Republican issue,' said Chervenak.

'You have those Republicans who oppose Obamacare but don't feel it's worth shutting down the government. On the other side you have the Tea Partiers who are vehemently opposed to Obamacare and they would like nothing more than to dismantle the federal government.'

The Senate will take up the debate Monday afternoon.

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