Government shutdowns in the United States

Government shutdowns take place in the US when financing laws needed to fund the federal government is not passed before the start of the new fiscal year. When there is a shutdown, the federal government reduces agency operations and services, stops non-essential operations, shutdowns non-essential employees, and only keeps on board necessary staff in the departments that safeguard life and Property State, territorial, and local levels of government may also be affected by shutdowns.

Shutdowns started to result from funding shortages in 1980 after Attorney General Benjamin Civility issued a legal opinion mandating them. Through the 1980s, this viewpoint was not regularly followed, but since 1990, any funding shortages lasting longer than a few hours have resulted in a shutdown. Ten funding lapses till September 2023 have resulted in federal employees

What causes government shutdowns?

Federal agencies are forbidden from creating any debt or making any payments under the Ant deficiency Act (first enacted in 1884 and revised in 1950). Federal agencies must stop all non-essential operations if Congress doesn’t pass the 12 yearly spending bills before they can resume them. We have a federal shutdown right now. Only the agencies lacking appropriations must shut down in the event that some but not all of the 12 appropriations bills are passed by Congress; this is referred to as a partial shutdown.

What happens when that occurs?

During shutdowns, federal employees are not required to report, but are paid retroactively when the shutdown ends. Essential services like air traffic control and law enforcement continue working but not until Congress intervenes. Benefits like Social Security and Medicare continue to flow, and the Treasury can continue paying interest on debt.

Shutdowns can cause problems by delaying the review of passport, small business loan, or government benefit applications. They can also result in national park visitor centers and restrooms being closed, fewer food safety inspections, and other nuisances. Because shutdowns are so likely, the White House Office of Management & Budget publishes a 51-page Q&A on shutdown protocols as well as comprehensive contingency plans that government agencies keep in place.

How frequently do governments shut down?

Operations were affected by four shutdowns that lasted more than one business day. In 1995-1996, the government shut down twice for a total of 26 days because President Clinton and the Republican Congress could not agree on spending caps. A financing dispute for the Affordable Care Act in 2013 led to a 16-day closure. Additionally, a conflict over border wall financing in December 2018 and January 2019 resulted in a 35-day partial shutdown because Congress had already passed five of the twelve spending bills.

The duration and history of government shutdowns

In the past fifty years, the United States has seen 22 government shutdowns. Congress has until September 30 to pass appropriations legislation that would pay the government.

Why it matters: Non-essential government operations are put on hold during a shutdown. Health programs, Social Security and Medicare, SNAP benefits, FDA inspections, and small business loans are just a few of the systems that would be impacted.

All workers aren’t paid during the shutdown, including those whose jobs are “excepted” and those who stop working. When operations start up again, their pay catches up.

The most recent government shutdown, which lasted from late 2018 to early 2019, when former President Donald Trump was in office, was the longest at 34 days.

Trump made an immigration concession as the government shutdown came to an end.

Between the lines: In previous shutdowns, the president and the party in charge of Congress were frequently at odds. It has more to do with the dynamics of the House Republican caucus in this instance, where hardliners are opposed to spending agreements that are supported by their own leadership.

Previously, the longest shutdown lasted 21 days between 1995 and 1996, when President Bill Clinton and House Speaker Newt Gingrich were unable to come to an agreement.

According to the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia, Republicans sought to eliminate Clinton’s 1993 tax increase and cut social services in order to balance the budget.

The Republicans were hoping that Clinton would receive the most of the blame, but in the end, it was all about who would get blamed.

While in office, former President Ronald Reagan saw a record eight government shutdowns, frequently due to spending disputes between domestic and defense issues.

Under previous President Barrack Osama, Republican opposition to Osama care was the main reason for a shutdown in 2013.

According to the House of Representatives records, prior to the 1980s, government agencies continued to function without appropriations under the presumption that funds would be forthcoming.

U.S. Attorney General Benjamin Civility laid the foundation for government shutdowns that are still in use today in 1980 and 1981.

According to the archives, “Civility called for a stricter interpretation of the Anti deficiency Act, a well-established law that forbids government agencies from authorizing expenditures in excess of the amount Congress provided them by law.”


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