This Is What Actually Happens In a Government Shutdown

Talk about a U.S. government shutdown is intensifying. Without agreement on the 12 appropriations bills that guide annual spending, the U.S. has been operating since Oct. 1 on temporary funding provided by a “continuing resolution.” Funding was due to run out after Dec. 8 but has twice been extended, most recently through Jan. 19. Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. Congress may need to keep passing short-term extensions until they reach accord on a trillion-dollar spending plan for the rest of the fiscal year. If the deal-making breaks down, the U.S. will encounter what’s officially called a “spending gap,” which triggers a carefully prescribed, but still disruptive, halt to Washington’s work.

1. What happens if the government shuts down?

Many, though not all, federal government functions are frozen, and many, though not all, federal employees are furloughed. Agencies in the executive branch, the one with the largest workforce and budget, regularly review shutdown plans that spell out what work must continue, and how many employees will be retained, during a “short” lapse (one to five days) and one that lasts longer.

2. Which government functions cease?

The ones that draw headlines are closures of national parks, monuments and the Smithsonian museums in Washington. Other activities that generally stop, at least if the shutdown lasts more than a couple days, are processing of applications for passports and visas; new enrollments in experimental treatments under the National Institutes for Health; and the maintenance of U.S. government websites, including ones used by businesses and researchers. Mortgage approvals can be delayed by furloughs at the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Housing Administration. The last shutdown, which lasted 16 days in 2013, delayed approval of about 200 drilling applications at the Bureau of Land Management, consideration of 700 applications for small business loans totaling $140 million, and the start of the Alaska crab season, which relies on harvest levels apportioned by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, according to a 2013 report by the White House Office of Management and Budget.

3. Which government functions continue?

Activities related to national security (like the military services), safety and order (air traffic control, law enforcement) and medical care (veterans’ hospitals) are among the essential activities that carry on. So does the U.S. mail, since the Postal Service has its own funding stream. U.S. Treasury debt auctions continue, Social Security and Medicare checks get mailed, food stamps are distributed. Federal courts are open but their work is subject to disruption.

4. How many federal employees stay home?

In the 2013 shutdown, the number of executive-branch employees who were furloughed on a given day peaked at 850,000, or about 40 percent of the workforce.

5. Do federal employees get paid?

Eventually. When a shutdown happens, most federal employees — there are about 2.8 million of them now — are placed on unpaid furlough. Though there “appears to be no guarantee” that they will eventually be paid, in practice they always have been, retroactively, via legislation passed by Congress, according to the Congressional Research Service.

6. How often does this happen?

There have been 12 shutdowns since 1981, ranging in duration from a single day to 21 days, according to the Congressional Research Service. The 21-day one, in December 1995 and January 1996, was a famous budget showdown that pitted President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, and the Republican House speaker, Newt Gingrich. Shutdowns over budget disagreements are different (and less grave) than what would happen if the U.S. breached its debt ceiling and defaulted on some of its obligations. That’s never happened — though its specter, too, will grow if Congress doesn’t reach a budget deal in the next several weeks.

7. What happened prior to 1981?

Until then, “funding gaps” didn’t result in shutdowns; agencies operated mostly as normal, and their expenses were covered retroactively once a deal was reached. Benjamin Civiletti, attorney general under President Jimmy Carter, put an end to that. With legal opinions issued in 1980 and 1981, he established that government work generally must cease until Congress agrees to pay for it. His rulings were codified in the Antideficiency Act, which, in theory at least, authorizes fines or prison terms to federal employees who dare work for free during a shutdown.

8. What’s holding up a real budget deal?

Leaders in Congress are juggling demands from factions in both parties to tie agreement on a spending plan to resolution of a variety of other measures. Those include raising budget caps for defense and domestic spending, funding the Mexico border wall promised by President Donald Trump, and extending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a program to protect from deportation some 800,000 young people brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

credit: time.com

Publish on Apt

Do you have any Social, informational, educational or entertaining stuff that should be featured on www.aptnewsghana.com?

Please submit your stories, pictures, and videos to us via WhatsApp: +233548388489 or click on the icon on your screen. Alternatively, email us: aptnewsghana@gmail.com

RSS APO Group – Africa-Newsroom: latest news releases related to Africa

  • Coronavirus - Africa: WHO COVID-19 Africa Update (26 September 2020) September 27, 2020
    Over 1.4 million confirmed COVID-19 cases on the African continent - with more than 1.1 million recoveries & 34,000 deaths cumulatively. View country figures & more with the WHO African Region COVID-19 Dashboard: https://arcg.is/XvuSXDistributed by APO Group on behalf of WHO Regional Office for Africa.Media filesDownload logo
  • Coronavirus - UN Malawi COVID-19 Update Situation Update No. 28 (at 25 September 2020) September 26, 2020
    Malawi Highlights The Inter-Cluster Coordination Group is facilitating the development of the National Contingency Plan and the Food Insecurity Response Plan New supplies valued at $992,547.78 were received this week into the Bollore Warehouse representing 81% of required procurements 77,900 persons were screened at points of entry this week Over 14,000 people in 6 districts […]
  • Coronavirus - Rwanda: Update COVID-19 (25 September 2020) September 26, 2020
    Download logoNine (9) new COVID-19 cases were identified out of 1400 samples tested today. This brings the cumulative number of confirmed cases to four thousand, seven hundred, and ninety-eight (4798). To date, three thousand, and eighty (3080) patients have recovered and been discharged, including thirty (30) in the past 24 hours. The number of active […]
  • Coronavirus - Uganda: Daily COVID-19 update (25 September 2020) September 26, 2020
    Results from COVID-19 tests done on 25 September, 2020 confirmed 146 new cases. The cumulative confirmed cases are now 7,364. Recoveries: 3,647. The break down of the new cases are: Contacts and alerts(133): Kampala (51), Namisindwa (13), Arua (12), Mityana (10), Tororo (7), Busia (5), Kitgum (5), Mbale (5), Nwoya (5), Wakiso (5), Gulu (3), […]
  • Coronavirus: African Union Member States reporting COVID-19 cases as of 26 September 2020, 9 am September 26, 2020
    African Union Member States (55) reporting COVID-19 cases (1,444,318) deaths (35,144), and recoveries (1,192,653) by region:  Central (57,416 cases; 1,076 deaths; 50,081 recoveries): Burundi (483; 1; 462), Cameroon (20,712; 418; 19,440), CAR (4,806; 62; 1,840), Chad (1,175; 83; 1,004), Congo (5,005; 89; 3,920), DRC (10,578; 271; 10,070), Equatorial Guinea (5,018; 83; 4,530), Gabon (8,728; 54; 7,934), […]
  • Coronavirus - Eswatini: Minister of Health Lizzie Nkosi's COVID-19 update on 25 September 2020 September 26, 2020
    Download logoNew cases: 24 Total cases: 5399 New recoveries: 43 Total recoveries: 4767Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Ministry of Health, Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini.
  • Coronavirus - Ethiopia: COVID-19 reported cases in Ethiopia (25 September 2020) September 26, 2020
    Daily Laboratory test: 7,227 Severe cases: 273 New recovered: 402 New deaths: 7 New cases: 486 Total Laboratory test: 1,241,872 Active cases: 41,153 Total recovered: 29,863 Total deaths: 1,155 Total cases: 72,173Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Ministry of Health, Ethiopia.Media filesDownload logo
  • Coronavirus - Kenya: COVID-19 Update (25 September 2020) September 26, 2020
    Total confirmed: 37,707 Total recovered: 24,504 Deaths: 682Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Ministry of Health, Kenya.Media filesDownload logo
  • Coronavirus - South Africa: COVID-19 statistics in South Africa (25 September 2020) September 26, 2020
    Tests conducted: 4 117 079 Positive cases identified: 668 529 Total recoveries: 599 149 Total deaths: 16 312 New cases: 1 480Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Republic of South Africa, Department of Health.Media filesDownload logo
  • Coronavirus - Africa: WHO COVID-19 Africa Update (25 September 2020) September 26, 2020
    Over 1.4 million confirmed COVID-19 cases on the African continent - with more than 1.1 million recoveries & 34,000 deaths cumulatively. View country figures & more with the WHO African Region COVID-19 Dashboard: https://arcg.is/XvuSX Distributed by APO Group on behalf of WHO Regional Office for Africa.Media filesDownload logo
About Editor 601 Articles
Joe Bright Nyarko Journalist/Communication Researcher. Environment & Sustainability Advocate. Managing Editor of aptnewsghana.com, a non-profit news portal with bias towards environment and sustainability issues, rural development policies and gender & inequality.