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Shutdown 2018

Last Updated:2019-Jan-07
Principal Writer:Barry Shatzman

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Economy: Government Shutdowns

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Parts of our government are shuttered

On Dec. 22, 2018, several federal agencies with hundreds of thousands of employees stopped operating, as Congress could not agree on a bill that would keep funding them.

Affected departments include...

What caused the shutdown?

Funding ran out for these departments on Dec. 21. Without new funding, the departments simply had no money even to pay their employees.

On Dec. 19, the Senate passed a continuing resolution (CR) that would have provided temporary funding through the first week of February.

On Dec. 20, the House of Representatives also passed the bill. However, the House version added $5 billion to pay for a wall along the southern U.S. border. The Republican-led House was following the lead of President Trump - who had said he wouldn't sign a bill without this provision (though he oscillated back and forth on the matter).

Because both houses of Congress did not agree on the bill by Dec. 21, it couldn't be sent to the president, and the affected agencies shut down.

Almost 1 million government workers affected

About 800,000 government workers are affected. Approximately half of those employees are considered non-essential and will be furloughed without pay. The others - such as border patrol agents - are considered essential and will be required to work, though without pay for the time being. They most likely will receive back pay. Contractors - such as those who clean offices - are unlikely to receive back pay once the government reopens.

They all will feel the first big blow on Jan. 11 - when they likely will not receive their expected paycheck.

A 2017 survey revealed that almost 8 out of every 10 full-time employees live paycheck to paycheck.

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has provided sample letters that furloughed employees can use to work with creditors.

One sample letter suggested that tenants offer to perform maintenance in exchange for part of their rent - a letter that has since been removed. However, none of the sample text originated from the Trump administration. The same advice was posted by the OPM under the Obama administration in 2013.

Virtually every American will feel pain

Several national parks may remain open, but with limited or no service, such as bathrooms, visitor centers, and emergency services.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will stop operating.

The Federal Do Not Call Registry cannot be accessed to add your phone number or report a complaint about illegal telemarketing calls.

Programs such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and National School Lunch Program are funded through January. It is not known what will happen after that.

Funding for the Violence Against Women Act expired.

What will it take to resolve this?

The 116th Congress begins its session on Jan. 3. Democrats, who will control the House of Representatives, have said they will propose a bill to fund the government without providing money for the border wall demanded by Trump.

Should both houses of Congress pass a bill without that funding (the Senate already did, but that expired at the end of this Congressional session), the decision then would rest on the president.

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