GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — Americans have gotten used to hearing about the possibility of a government shutdown.

With all eyes on Capitol Hill, it begs the question: How does it keep happening? 

East Carolina University Political Science Professor Olga Smirnova says every year congress must pass 12 appropriation bills, followed by the president signing budget legislation for the new fiscal year. If they don’t meet their deadline of Sept. 30, that’s when the government shuts down, causing federal agencies to stop non-essential work.

“That depends on what type of measures the Senate may take to ensure what it is going to be identified as essential and non-essential employees,” Smirnova said.

Smirnova says essential workers that could potentially keep working without pay, include the TSA. It’s likely routine security at Piedmont Triad International Airport in Greensboro or North Carolina’s other airports will continue as usual.

A shutdown could close national parks or disrupt services provided by the National Parks Service, potentially including the Guilford Courthouse National Military Park in Greensboro as well as the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Wright Brothers National Memorial.

It could also impact those who rely on food stamps for groceries, emergency funding and veteran services.

Retired Airman James Nelson said the potential shutdown is something he’s trying not to worry about.

“Hopefully they’ll come to an agreement and don’t shut the government down,” Nelson said.

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The last government shutdown lasted from Dec. 22, 2018, to Jan. 25, 2019, spanning 35 days and making it the longest in U.S. history.

If another shutdown does go into place over the weekend, Smirnova advises federal workers to financially prepare the best they can.

If Congress does not meet the deadline, this would become the 15 government shutdown ever.