Congress missed the deadline for avoiding the first partial government shutdown in 17 years.

Government shutdown anxiety is rising at NASA where thousands of people will be furloughed beginning Tuesday morning.

Three thousand full-time government employees and an undetermined number of contract workers would be sent home. Contractor O.B. Thomas would be one of them.

"Definitely I won't be working and I won't be making a living until they decide to send us back to work," said Thomas.

The potential shutdown has a lot of worried folks, government workers and otherwise, asking questions.

Will our mail still be delivered? Yes, because the U.S. Postal Service functions as an independent business unit. What about social security benefits?  Will seniors still receive them? The answer is also yes, because social security is a mandatory spending program.

Food stamp recipients will still have access to those because the funds set aside for that program don't expire for another year. And people out of work will still receive federal unemployment benefits.

But up to 800,000 federal workers across the country, including those at NASA could be without paychecks to take care of food, bills and other needs for as long as the shutdown lasts.

"Certainly a period of uncertainty," said Thomas. "And it's ridiculous, it doesn't need to happen."