Government shutdown in 2011 could result from deadlocked Congress


If Congress cannot agree on a budget by March 4, a full government shutdown is a possibility. Image: Flickr / laurapadgett / CC-BY

On March 4, the budget that runs the federal government will expire. There are rumors that there may be a 2011 government shutdown. A government shutdown 2011 is a possibility, but lawmakers are working to prevent the shutdown.

The basics of a government shutdown 2011

Facing the possibility of a government shutdown in 2011, it is important to understand what would happen. The last time a full government shutdown happened in 1998, just about everything government-run simply shut down. There have been other government shutdowns since 1998, but they were very short-term, partial shutdowns that affected portions of the federal government, but not the whole thing. A full government shutdown in 2011 would mean that everything from Social Security to Veteran’s Affairs would simply cease to function. National parks shut down, passport agencies shut their doors, and federal employees have an unpaid furlough. Some select self-funding agencies, such as the USPS, may stay open. Medical facilities would also continue to operate but with a skeleton crew.

How a government shutdown happens

The federal government requires a budget to operate, and that federal budget has to be passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the president. If a budget isn’t passed, then the agencies of the federal government do not know what funding is available, and must shutter their doors until there is a budget to operate with. As in 1998, Congressional debates over spending cuts are holding back the passage of a budget.

What a 2011 government shutdown could mean

If the government shutdown of 2011 actually happens, the ramifications would be huge. Congress would then, as now, be under huge pressure to pass a budget. That means that Democrats and Republicans would have to come to some kind of an accord on spending. In 1998, the government shutdown preceded a period of balanced budget spending that created a surplus of federal money — the first and only time that has happened in the last 15 years.

Washington Monthly

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