After 17 years, the US Federal government started its first partial shutdown on Monday night as Congress failed to authorise any federal spending for fiscal 2014, which begins on October 1.
"We urge Congress to act quickly to pass a continuing resolution to provide a short-term bridge that ensures sufficient time to pass a budget for the remainder of the fiscal year, and to restore the operation of critical public services and programs that will be impacted by a lapse in appropriations," said Sylvia Burwell, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, in a statement.
Social Security checks will still work, but national parks will be closed and around 800,000 workers furloughed as Congress fails to pass a fiscal 2014 spending authorization bill.
"The president made clear that Congress has two jobs to do: pay the bills on time and pass a budget on time. Failure to fulfill those responsibilities is harmful to our economy, small businesses and middle class families across the country," the White House said.
A shutdown would also disrupt the economy, US President Obama said. “It would throw a wrench into the gears of our economy at a time when those gears have gained some traction.”
The US President stressed that the healthcare law, known as Obamacare, would proceed regardless of whether the government shut its doors.
Here's a look at how a shutdown would work, which parts of the government would close, and which parts of the economy might be affected.
In the US politics, a government shutdown is a situation in which the government stops providing all except "essential" services.
When federal agencies and programs lack appropriated funding, they experience a funding gap. Under the Antideficiency Act, they must cease operations, except in certain emergency situations or when law authorizes continued activity, according to Congressional Research Service report.
Longest government shutdown in US
Failure of the President and Congress to reach agreement on interim or full-year funding measures occasionally has caused government shutdowns in US. The longest of the government shutdown in the US was from December 16, 1995, to January 6, 1996 which lasted 21 days.
Government shutdowns have necessitated lay off of several federal employees, required reduction of many government activities, and affected numerous sectors of the economy.
Causes of Federal Shutdowns
The federal fiscal year begins on October 1. For agencies and programs that rely on discretionary funding, Congress and the President must enact interim or full-year appropriations by this date if many governmental activities are to continue operating.
If interim or full-year appropriations are not enacted into law, the time interval in which agency appropriations are not enacted is referred to as a “funding gap.”
When a funding gap occurs, the federal government begins a “shutdown” of the affected activities. Funding gaps and government shutdowns have occurred in the past when Congress and the President did not enact regular appropriations bills by the beginning of the fiscal year.
They also have occurred when Congress and the President did not come to an agreement on stop-gap funding.
Effects on Government Operations and Services to the Public
There are a whole bunch of key government functions that carry on during a shutdown, including anything related to national security, public safety, or programs written into permanent law (like Social Security). Here's a partial list of shutdowns in FY1996.
Health: New patients were not accepted into clinical research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) clinical center; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ceased disease surveillance; and hotline calls to NIH concerning diseases were not answered.
Law Enforcement and Public Safety: Delays occurred in the processing of alcohol, tobacco, firearms, and explosives applications by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms; work on more than 3,500 bankruptcy cases reportedly was suspended; cancellation of the recruitment and testing of federal law enforcement officials reportedly occurred, including the hiring of 400 border patrol agents; and delinquent child-support cases were delayed.
Parks, Museums, and Monuments: Closure of 368 National Park Service sites (loss of 7 million visitors) reportedly occurred, with loss of tourism revenues to local communities; and closure of national museums and monuments (reportedly with an estimated loss of 2 million visitors) occurred.
Visas and Passports: Approximately 20,000-30,000 applications by foreigners for visas reportedly went unprocessed each day; 200,000 U.S. applications for passports reportedly went unprocessed; and U.S. tourist industries and airlines reportedly sustained millions of dollars in losses.
American Veterans: Multiple services were curtailed, ranging from health and welfare to finance and travel.
Possible National Security Implications
A federal government shutdown could have possible negative security implications,88 as some entities wishing to take actions harmful to US interests may see the nation as physically and politically vulnerable. Historically, individuals responsible for supporting the nation’s global security activities, public safety efforts, and foreign relations pursuits have been excepted from furloughs that accompany a government shutdown.
The United States Federal Government has shut down on 18 occasions since 1976
Start date: Days
Sep 30, 1976. 10
Sep 30,.1977. 12
Oct 31, 1977. 08
Nov 30, 1977, 08
Sep 30,.1978, 18
Sep 30, 1979. 11
Nov 20, 1981. 02
Sep 30 1982. 01
Dec 17, 1982. 03
Nov 10, 1983, 03
Sep 30, 1984. 02
Oct 03, 1984. 01
Oct 16, 1986, 01
Dec 18, 1987. 01
Oct 05, 1990. 04
Nov 13, 1995. 05
Dec 16, 1995. 21
Oct 01, 2013. Ongoing