The possibility of a US government shutdown over the upcoming weekend appears to be increasingly likely. This scenario has become probable after Speaker Kevin McCarthy decided not to bring the Senate’s bipartisan temporary funding resolution to a vote, which is essential to avoid a government shutdown.
For those unfamiliar with the term, a shutdown is the cessation or blockage of government activities resulting from the failure to approve spending bills that make up the US budget. This budget should be approved by October 1st, marking the start of the fiscal year. If this approval is not granted, the US government may be forced to suspend its activities, either partially or entirely.
In the past, to prevent such situations, Congress has often passed a “continuing resolution,” similar to our temporary funding, to keep federal agencies operational while awaiting budget approval. However, this year, it appears that even this resolution is a point of disagreement in Congress. At the root of this decision is a constitutional provision that prohibits the Treasury Department from spending money without legal authorization. A law dating back to 1870, the Antideficiency Act, also requires federal agencies to cease their operations in the absence of such authorization.
If a shutdown were to occur, the federal government would need to halt all non-essential activities. Each federal agency would determine what its vital activities are, and Congress would do the same for its staff. There are some exceptions: the government can continue to fund operations to protect lives and property, keeping key figures like the President, his staff, and members of Congress working.
Additionally, military personnel, law enforcement officers, and employees of government-funded hospitals are considered essential. These workers would continue to perform their duties without receiving pay, with compensation being provided after the shutdown concludes. Conversely, non-essential employees would be furloughed without pay.
Faced with this impasse, the White House has warned federal agencies to prepare to notify their employees of the potential government funding suspension. Many offices are already compiling lists of essential workers.
In 2013, a previous shutdown saw approximately 850,000 of the 2.1 million federal employees furloughed. Another shutdown, between 2018 and 2019, affected 800,000 employees, with an $11 billion economic impact on the US.
The effects of a shutdown directly impact citizens: suspension of public services, park closures, passport office closures, and more. However, some services, like mail delivery or social security programs, remain operational.
A government shutdown not only disrupts government operations but also ripples through the economy, affecting businesses that rely on federal contracts and services. It erodes public trust in political leadership and highlights the need for bipartisan cooperation in budgetary matters.The shadow of a government shutdown looms over the US government. Discover the consequences and how they could affect citizens’ daily lives.”