Will the Government Shut Down?

U.S. Government?

The federal government may shut down because there's no budget/ Photo by TM


Congress hasn’t done its job of passing a budget so the government might shut down on Oct. 1. Best-case scenario? Lawmakers pass a temporary spending bill that expires on Dec. 15, and we’ll have this exact same problem again in two and a half months.

Possible Government Shutdown on Oct. 1

There are just a few days left before Oct. 1, the start of the federal government’s new fiscal year and the deadline for Congress to pass some sort of a spending bill in order to avoid a government shutdown. Congress has had months and months to write the appropriations bills that would form an actual budget – and if lawmakers had actually gotten to work on the budget months ago, that would have allowed time for open and transparent debate about how our tax dollars will be spent.

There’s no chance of that now. In fact, at this point even the best-case scenario is pretty grim: if lawmakers do manage to pass a temporary spending bill – known as a continuing resolution (CR) – before the Oct. 1 deadline, they’re only even considering funding the government through Dec. 15 – so we’ll be in this same situation again in two and a half months. (And between now and then, we’ll also have a similar crisis over the debt ceiling.)

What Happens in a Government Shutdown?

If they fail even to pass a CR, the government will shut down, and agencies are already preparing to do so. A shut down would mean delays in things like passport processing and the closing of national parks. “Essential” services would continue, so members of the military, for instance, would still go to work – but they’d likely have to wait to be paid. For more detail on what happens in a government shutdown, our friends at Center for Effective Government have the story.

Why Is This Happening?

We’re in this last-minute lurch because Congress failed to follow the actual budget process. And Congress may now fail to pass a last-minute CR because House Republicans have said they won’t approve such a measure unless it defunds Obamacare – a move that Senate Democrats oppose and President Obama would veto.