A government shutdown is imminent

The U.S. Government has had 14 shutdowns since 1980. Sources speculate that we may be heading into number 15.
Reports started circulating around the media early last week speculating that the United States government was potentially heading into a shutdown. Biden passed a temporary funding bill late Oct. 1 which will keep the government functioning for now. While the U.S. government is often fraught with disagreements, the present theories are spurred by the Senate’s inability to agree on the funding legislation for the next fiscal year. When such issues have happened in the past, among other circumstances, the government has gone into a shutdown. The end of funding provided by the temporary bill is Nov. 17, which is when the government may shut down with the continuing bipartisan arguments.

This is not an uncommon situation. The U.S. government has rarely submitted completed budget bills for all 12 subcommittees of the government. In the past, failure to come to an agreement on funding has not always led to a shutdown due to the fact that the government has the ability to pass a temporary bill that allows the government to continue its processes, called a Continuing Resolution. For example, in order to determine the funding for the fiscal year of 2023, from Oct. 1, 2022 to Sept. 29, 2023, Congress enacted two continuing resolutions in order to create more time for the funding to be agreed upon by legislation.

However, this year the situation is different in regards to the lack of an agreement between the members of Congress. The problems started in May of this year when the country nearly hit its debt ceiling. If not for lawmakers passing the Fiscal Responsibility Act in June, the country would have defaulted on its debt, causing a global recession. The FRA’s duty, according to the official congress website, was to “increase the federal debt limit, establish new discretionary spending limits, rescind unobligated funds, expand network requirements for federal programs and modify other requirements related to the federal budget process.” The FRA also established budget caps for the next two fiscal years. Due to these caps, the government would not be able to enact a Continuing Resolution without consequences, since they would be incompatible with the FRA’s agreed-upon funding from June. On the other hand, members of Congress who are still working on the funding legislation are also starting to come into disagreements with the FRA itself while trying to advocate for lower funding for portions of the government.

What would the effects of the FRA be if the government cannot determine funding appropriation? Let’s take a look at the details regarding the sections laid out in the FRA. The FRA’s Division B, Title 1 states, “Rescission of Unobligated Funds, calls for much of the funding used to help boost the country’s economy and research efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic to be rescinded upon an event in which the government continues to be unable to devise a funding plan.” Another objective of the FRA, in order to encourage lawmakers to complete the budget, is to reduce the funding by a small percentage until the appropriation has been determined.

As for the implications of a shutdown on the citizens of the U.S., a government shutdown could prove to be worrisome. Government-funded activities and services that many Americans rely on (such as food assistance programs, Smithsonian museums, social services and community centers that are funded by federal grants) may start to suffer if enough time passes. Many federal workers may become furloughed, and others will start to work without pay. However, the higher offices will still retain all job benefits. Until the government is able to agree on the funding for the country, citizens and the economy will continue to deteriorate slowly. Other federal services that are deemed non-essential will start to see temporary cuts as well, leading to delays, inaccessibility and new federal funding requests not being reviewed.

Overall, a government shutdown may lead to many economic issues throughout the country. With only a short time remaining until the policy for government funding within the fiscal year becomes outdated, an agreement will need to be made within days in order to evade the negative effects that a government shutdown may cause on its citizens.









Post Author: Hannah Moua