Question 21 - Reading and Writing Practice Test for the PSAT/NMSQT Exam

Which word completes the first sentence of the passage provided most logically and precisely?

As America faces another ____ government shutdown in the next few days, many citizens wonder how the country is able to get to this point. As the name suggests, a government shutdown means that some critical aspects of federal government shut down, scale back operations, or ask workers to continue working without a paycheck. This happens when Congress fails to pass the twelve necessary appropriations, or spending bills, required to keep the country running. These appropriations provide spending budgets for a variety of government agencies and programs.

Although it may seem as though a government shutdown wouldn’t directly impact most Americans, it can affect the “average citizen” in several different ways. While social benefit programs like Social Security and Medicare continue to pay out monies, children could lose access to the federal preschool program, Head Start, meaning working parents would need to find alternative childcare options and those children would miss out on learning. Organizations like the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) could be forced to pause inspections of workplaces, water treatment facilities, and food manufacturers, putting the health and safety of the general public at risk. Those who are traveling to visit a national park may face closures, and TSA workers may be required to work without receiving pay (they will receive payment retroactively once appropriations are passed and the government “reopens”).

While there are many opinions about how and why we continue to find ourselves on the brink of government shutdown in this country, the fact is we are there once again. Negotiations have stalled as both political sides dig in their heels and hold tight to their positions. As the clock ticks closer to shutdown, it seems all the average American can do is hope their elected officials do the job they were elected for and keep the government up and running.

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