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It started over Obamacare.Congress failed to come to an agreement on a budget after Republican lawmakers began pushing to defund Obamacare. Not surprisingly, Senate Democrats and the Obama administration rejected the proposals and the resulting impasse led to the partial shutdown that began in early October 2013.
Nearly 800,000 federal employees were out of work without pay.In addition, more than a million other working employees had their paychecks delayed. On day five of the shutdown, Congress voted to give the furloughed government employees retroactive pay. Meanwhile, some members of Congress kept collecting their paychecks, while others voluntarily gave theirs up.
V.A. financial benefits were disrupted.Millions of veterans and their families almost did not receive their benefits. The Veterans Affairs secretary at the time, Eric Shinseki, warned that if the shutdown continued through late October, the agency would not be able to send out compensation checks to 5.1 million veterans.
#Shutdownbeards became a thing.With extra time on their hands and no meetings to look presentable for, some furloughed federal staffers tweeted out pictures of their beards, refusing to shave until Congress ended the shutdown.
The shutdown finally came to an end.On Oct. 16, the Senate and House voted to fund the government until Jan. 15 and extend the debt limit. Minor changes were made to Obamacare requiring income verification for those receiving health care. President Obama signed the bill shortly after midnight on Oct. 17, ending the shutdown.
Shutdown Day is a global Internet experiment whose purpose is to get people to think about how their lives have changed with the increasing use of the home computer, and whether or not any good things are being lost because of this. The concept of the Shutdown Day project is to simply shutdown one's computer for one whole day each year, and become involved in other activities: outdoors, nature, sports, fun stuff with friends and family, just to remind yourself that there is a real world beyond the computer screen.
Shutdown Day started in early 2007, when Denis Bystrov realized that he spent too much time with his computer and wanted to spend more time with his family. Bystrov teamed up with his friends Nikolay Kudrevatykh, Michael Taylor (former trade floor occupant in stock markets in London, England) and David Bridle (part-time film maker from Cardiff, Wales), to present a challenge on the Internet, through the website shutdownday.org, challenging people to avoid their computers for 24 hours. The idea was simple:
Shutdown day 2009 was held on May 2. The campaign started on March 1 and lasted through May 2, 2009. IT Wire reported that media organizations such as Fox News, CNN, The Toronto Sun, The Washington Post were now carrying stories about Shutdown Day. C|Net reported that by April 23, almost 55,000 people had agreed to turn off their computers for 24 hours by going to shutdownday.org and clicking on the "yes, I can do it" link.
OMB maintains a list of the various contingency plans federal agencies will follow during a shutdown. Most have been updated within the past three years, but some have not been updated since the last full shutdown in early 2018.
A full shutdown would be more extensive than the partial shutdown that started in December 2018 when Congress had enacted five of the 12 appropriations bills. A full shutdown would likely be similar to recent ones in 2013 and early 2018 when approximately 850,000 out of 2.1 million non-postal federal employees were furloughed. In 2013, most of the 350,000 civilian employees at the Department of Defense were summoned back to work within a week. Furloughed employees are not allowed to work and do not receive paychecks but are guaranteed back pay due to legislation passed in January 2019. Federal contractors have historically not received back pay.
At the beginning of the partial 2018-2019 shutdown, an estimated 380,000 employees were furloughed, a smaller number than usual since large federal employers such as the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense were already funded. Another 420,000 employees reported to work but did not receive pay until the shutdown ended. As the 2018-2019 shutdown continued, departments and agencies such as the IRS and State Department recalled an increasing number of employees.
Whereas discretionary spending must be appropriated every year, mandatory spending is authorized either for multi-year periods or permanently. Thus, mandatory spending generally continues during a shutdown. However, some services associated with mandatory programs may be diminished if there is a discretionary component to their funding. For instance, during the 1996 shutdowns and the 2013 shutdown, Social Security checks continued to go out. However, staff who handled new enrollments and other services, such as changing addresses or handling requests for new Social Security cards, were initially furloughed in 1996. In 2013, certain activities were discontinued, including verifying benefits and providing new and replacement cards, but processing of benefit applications or address changes continued. During the 2018-2019 shutdown, the Department of Agriculture had to rely on a special authority included in the previous CR to allow it to continue to issue SNAP benefits.
While estimates vary widely, evidence suggests that shutdowns tend to cost, not save, money for several reasons. For one, putting contingency plans in place has a real cost. In addition, many user fees and other charges are not collected during a shutdown, and federal contractors sometimes include premiums in their bids to account for uncertainty in being paid. While many federal employees are forced to be idle during a shutdown, they have historically received and are now guaranteed back pay, negating much of those potential savings. OMB official estimates of the 2013 government shutdown found that $2.5 billion of pay and benefits were paid to furloughed employees for hours not worked during the shutdown, as well as roughly $10 million of penalty interest payments and lost fee collections.
Shutdowns also carry a cost to the economy. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that the 2018-2019 shutdown reduced Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by a total of $11 billion, including $3 billion that will never be recovered. On top of that effect, CBO notes that longer shutdowns negatively affect private-sector investment and hiring decisions as businesses cannot obtain federal permits and certifications, or access federal loans. A 2019 Senate report found that the three government shutdowns in 2013, 2018, and 2019 cost taxpayers nearly $4 billion. 2b1af7f3a8