Government shutdown

Government shutdowns occur when no party can form a government but the nation does not return to the polls, or when the government refuses passage of key bills. It can, but does not always, result in the cessation of some or all operations by the government.


Belgian Governments are typically coalition governments due to the split between the Flemish and French parts of the country.[1][2] On occasion, this has lead to a situation where no party is able to form a government but the Parliament does not vote to return to the polls. One source has referred to this as a government shutdown.[3]

This occurred most notably in 2010–11, when Belgium operated without a government for 541 days, and though there were calls for drastic measures to resolve the issue, including the dissolution of the nation,[4] government services were not disrupted due to the implementation of a caretaker government and the devolution of most key functions.[5][6]

United Kingdom

Until the passage of the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act in 2011, government shutdowns in the United Kingdom were impossible due to parliamentary convention. A government which could not command a majority in Parliament would be dismissed, either prior to the seating of Parliament when the Queen's Speech was voted down or later, when a vote of no confidence was tabled and passed, when a Finance Act was voted down, or when a major bill was voted down.[7]

The Fixed-term Parliaments Act, however, abolished these conventions, ensuring that the only way to call new elections was either for the explicit passage of a vote of no confidence or a two-thirds majority in the House of Commons calling for a new election. This has led to speculation that a government shutdown is now possible, with the government holding the House standing through tabled Votes of No Confidence but failing to pass legislation due to internal fighting or the breakdown of a coalition.[8][9] One source compared the deadlock on the Brexit process to a government shutdown.[10]

An American-style shutdown was also considered to be on the table in the context of Brexit, as some MP's proposed an amendment to "starve the government of cash" and create a "Donald Trump-style shutdown" in the event of a no-deal Brexit.[11][12][13]

Northern Ireland

In January 2017 the Assembly of Northern Ireland shutdown[14] after the power-sharing agreement collapsed,[15][16][17] resulting in the national parliament being unable to pass bills, including critical spending bills. In December, this ongoing event almost resulted in an American-style shutdown, with regional civil services set to run out of money within days, but such a shutdown was averted when the British Government stepped in to keep local services funded.[18]

United States

In the United States, government shutdowns occur when Congress fails to pass a bill to fund the federal government, or the President vetoes such a bill.[19] Since 1980, these shutdowns have resulted in affected agencies stopping operation due to a new interpretation of the 1884 Antideficiency Act.[20]


  1. ^ "Belgium country profile". BBC. 21 May 2018. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
  2. ^ Morris, Chris (29 September 2014). "Belgium's complex web of democracy". BBC. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
  3. ^ "U.S. Government Shutdown Not Likely to Break Belgium's Record of 589 Days". Retrieved 31 January 2019.
  4. ^ "Unity at stake in Belgium vote". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
  5. ^ Smith, Raymond A. (9 October 2013). "How Belgium Survived 20 Months Without a Government". Washington Monthly - Politics. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
  6. ^ Seman, Sarah Jean. "Do as the Belgians Do? The Country that went 589 Days Without a Government". Townhall. Retrieved 31 January 2019.
  7. ^ "Parliamentary Elections" (PDF). Parliament. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
  8. ^ Bush, Stephen. "There's something everyone has missed about the DUP and the Fixed Term Parliaments Act". New Statesman. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
  9. ^ Talbot, Colin. "Budget 2015 could see a government shutdown in the UK". The Conversation. Retrieved 31 January 2019.
  10. ^ Freedland, Jonathan (9 January 2019). "We might mock Trump and his wall, but it's not so different in Britain | Jonathan Freedland". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 February 2019.
  11. ^ Koubaridis, Andrew. "Brexit: Government shutdown looms as House of Commons votes". Retrieved 31 January 2019.
  12. ^ Shipman, Tim (6 January 2019). "MPs threaten Trump-style shutdown over Brexit". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 31 January 2019.
  13. ^ Patel-Carstairs, Sunita. "PM faces Commons defeat which could shut down her government". Sky News. Retrieved 1 February 2019.
  14. ^ "Why Northern Ireland's parliament lies empty". The Economist. 21 November 2017. Retrieved 1 February 2019.
  15. ^ McDowell, Iain (5 February 2018). "Stormont deadlock: Need-to-know guide". BBC. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
  16. ^ Kelly, Ben (4 January 2019). "Two years on: Why is there no government in Northern Ireland?". The Independent. Retrieved 31 January 2019.
  17. ^ Hughes, Laura (16 January 2017). "Snap election announced in Northern Ireland as power-sharing agreement collapses". The Telegraph. Retrieved 31 January 2019.
  18. ^ Noack, Rick. "Why other countries don't have government shutdowns". Washington Post. Washington Post. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
  19. ^ Longley, Robert. "Causes, History and Effects of Government Shutdowns". ThoughtCo. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
  20. ^ Murse, Tom. "Here Are All 21 Government Shutdowns in U.S. History Since 1976". ThoughtCo. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
1980 United States federal government shutdown

The United States federal government shutdown of 1980 was the first federal government shutdown in the United States. It occurred on May 1, 1980, and affected only the Federal Trade Commission for one day. Congress had allowed its funding to lapse as part of an effort to pass an authorization bill that would limit its powers, but the Carter Administration for the first time enforced a shutdown of a federal agency based on a new interpretation of the 1884 Antideficiency Act, causing new funding to be approved that evening. The shutdown caused the furlough of 1,600 employees and cost the government $700,000 (equal to $1.8 million in 2016), mostly as a result of lost labor.

1990 United States federal government shutdown

The United States federal government shutdown of 1990 occurred over the 1990 Columbus Day weekend, from Saturday, October 6 through Monday, October 8. The shutdown stemmed from the fact that a deficit reduction package negotiated by President George H. W. Bush contained tax increases, despite his campaign promise of "read my lips: no new taxes", leading to a revolt led by House Minority Whip Newt Gingrich that defeated the initial appropriations package. Because the shutdown occurred over a weekend, the effects of the shutdown were lessened, with the National Parks and the Smithsonian museums being the most visible closures. Around 2,800 workers were furloughed, with the government losing $2.57 million in lost revenue and back wages.

1995–96 United States federal government shutdowns

The United States federal government shutdowns of 1995 and 1995–96 were the result of conflicts between Democratic President Bill Clinton and the Republican Congress over funding for Medicare, education, the environment, and public health in the 1996 federal budget. The government shut down after Clinton vetoed the spending bill the Republican-controlled Congress sent him. The federal government of the United States put government workers on furlough and suspended non-essential services from November 14 through November 19, 1995, and from December 16, 1995, to January 6, 1996, for 5 and 21 days, respectively. The major players were President Clinton and Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Newt Gingrich. The first of the two shutdowns caused the furlough of about 800,000 workers, while the second caused about 284,000 workers to be furloughed.The second of the two remained the longest government shutdown in U.S. history until the 2018–2019 government shutdown surpassed it on January 12, 2019.

2005 Minnesota state government shutdown

The 2005 Minnesota state government shutdown was a government shutdown affecting the U.S. state of Minnesota, the first in the history of the state. The shutdown was the result of a fiscal dispute between the Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty and House majority, and the Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party (DFL) majority in the state Senate, that was not resolved by the constitutional deadline on June 30. The Republicans and the DFL disagreed over how much would be spent on state healthcare programs and public schools, and what sources of revenue would be used for this funding. During the shutdown, many non-essential state government programs were closed, and about 8,900 state employees were furloughed. The shutdown lasted nine days, until the legislature passed, and the governor signed, a 'lights-on' temporary authorization of spending, followed by a compromise budget agreement. In 2011, there was another government shutdown lasting 20 days.

2006 New Jersey state government shutdown

The 2006 New Jersey state government shutdown was the first shutdown in the history of the U.S. state of New Jersey. The shutdown occurred after the New Jersey Legislature and Governor Jon Corzine failed to agree on a state budget by the constitutional deadline. Furthermore, Corzine and the Legislature clashed on the issue of raising the state sales tax to help balance budget. Exercising his constitutional powers as governor, Corzine ordered the shutdown as a means of pressuring the Legislature to pass a budget. The shutdown began at midnight on July 1, 2006, when Corzine called for an orderly shutdown of non-essential government services, which was followed by a second round of shutdowns three days later on July 4.

The shutdown officially concluded after the legislature adopted a budget on July 8, 2006. All government services were restored by 8:30 am on July 10, 2006.

New Jersey would not have another shutdown until July 1, 2017, when the government shut down after failing to pass a budget before the midnight deadline. The shutdown ended on July 3, 2017.

2011 Minnesota state government shutdown

The 2011 Minnesota state government shutdown was a government shutdown affecting the U.S. state of Minnesota. The shutdown was the result of a fiscal dispute between the Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party (DFL) Governor Mark Dayton and the Republican-majority Minnesota Legislature, that was not resolved by the constitutional deadline on June 30. The Republican caucuses and their leaders demanded bigger spending cuts, and for the budget shortfall to be met without tax increases, while Dayton demanded some tax increases. The shutdown started at midnight on July 1, and ended after a budget bill was passed and signed on July 20.

During the shutdown all less important parts of the state government, that were not identified as critical services before the shutdown or in several court cases, suspended their operations. Most state government services were identified as critical or otherwise allowed to continue, so as much as 80 percent of state government spending continued. The eventual budget agreement started to form after Governor Dayton announced on July 14 that he would "reluctantly" pass the last proposal of the Republican legislative leadership before the shutdown, but with conditions. The shutdown was disruptive to the government and some Minnesotans, but its ultimate economic impact was minimal. Politically, it could have influenced the Republican electoral defeat in the 2012 state elections, although there were other factors that may have been more important.

2013 United States federal government shutdown

From October 1 to October 17, 2013, the United States federal government entered a shutdown and curtailed most routine operations because neither legislation appropriating funds for fiscal year 2014 nor a continuing resolution for the interim authorization of appropriations for fiscal year 2014 was enacted in time. Regular government operations resumed October 17 after an interim appropriations bill was signed into law.

During the shutdown, approximately 800,000 federal employees were indefinitely furloughed, and another 1.3 million were required to report to work without known payment dates. Only those government services deemed "excepted" under the Antideficiency Act were continued; and only those employees deemed "excepted" continued to report to work. The previous U.S. federal government shutdown was in 1995–96. The 16-day-long shutdown of October 2013 was the third-longest government shutdown in U.S. history, after the 35-day 2018–2019 shutdown and the 21-day 1995–96 shutdown.

A "funding-gap" was created when the two chambers of Congress failed to agree to an appropriations continuing resolution. The Republican-led House of Representatives, in part encouraged by conservative senators such as Ted Cruz and conservative groups such as Heritage Action, offered several continuing resolutions with language delaying or defunding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (commonly known as "Obamacare"). The Democratic-led Senate passed several amended continuing resolutions for maintaining funding at then-current sequestration levels with no additional conditions. Political fights over this and other issues between the House on one side and President Barack Obama and the Senate on the other led to a budget impasse which threatened massive disruption.The deadlock centered on the Continuing Appropriations Resolution, 2014, which was passed by the House of Representatives on September 20, 2013. The Senate stripped the bill of the measures related to the Affordable Care Act, and passed it in revised form on September 27, 2013. The House reinstated the Senate-removed measures, and passed it again in the early morning hours on September 29. The Senate declined to pass the bill with measures to delay the Affordable Care Act, and the two legislative houses did not develop a compromise bill by the end of September 30, 2013, causing the federal government to shut down due to a lack of appropriated funds at the start of the new 2014 federal fiscal year.

Also, on October 1, 2013, many aspects of the Affordable Care Act implementation took effect. The health insurance exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act launched as scheduled on October 1. Much of the Affordable Care Act is funded by previously authorized and mandatory spending, rather than discretionary spending, and the presence or lack of a continuing resolution did not affect it. Some of the law's funds also come from multiple-year and "no-year" discretionary funds that are not affected by a lack of a continuing resolution. Late in the evening of October 16, 2013, Congress passed the Continuing Appropriations Act, 2014, and the President signed it shortly after midnight on October 17, ending the government shutdown and suspending the debt limit until February 7, 2014.According to a Washington Post/ABC News poll conducted several months following the shutdown, 81% of Americans disapproved of the shutdown, 86% felt it had damaged the United States' image in the world, and 53% held Republicans in Congress accountable for the shutdown.

2018–19 United States federal government shutdown

The United States federal government shutdown of 2018–2019 occurred from midnight EST on December 22, 2018 until January 25, 2019 (35 days). It was the longest U.S. government shutdown in history, and the second federal government shutdown involving furloughs during the presidency of Donald Trump. It occurred when the Republican controlled United States Congress and Republican President Donald Trump could not agree on an appropriations bill to fund the operations of the federal government for the 2019 fiscal year, or a temporary continuing resolution that would extend the deadline for passing a bill. The Antideficiency Act prohibits federal departments or agencies from conducting non-essential operations without appropriations legislation in place. As a result, nine executive departments with around 800,000 employees had to shut down partially or in full, affecting about one-fourth of government activities and causing employees to be furloughed or required to work without being paid. The Congressional Budget Office estimated the shutdown cost the American economy at least $11 billion, excluding indirect costs that were difficult to quantify.The shutdown stemmed from an impasse over Trump's demand for $5.7 billion in federal funds for a U.S.–Mexico border wall. In December 2018, the Republican-controlled Senate unanimously passed an appropriations bill without wall funding, and the bill appeared likely to be approved by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives and Trump. After Trump faced heavy criticism from some right-wing media outlets and pundits for appearing to back down on his campaign promise to "build the wall", he announced that he would not sign any appropriations bill that did not fund its construction. As a result, the House passed a stopgap bill with funding for the wall, but it was blocked in the Senate by the threat of a Democratic filibuster.In January 2019, representatives elected in the November 2018 election took office, giving the Democrats a majority in the House of Representatives. The House immediately voted to approve the appropriations bill that had previously passed the Senate unanimously (which including no funding for the wall). For several weeks, Trump continued to maintain that he would veto any bill that did not fund an entire border wall, and Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked the Senate from considering any appropriations legislation that Trump would not support, including the bill that had previously passed. Democrats and some Republicans opposed the shutdown and passed multiple bills to reopen the government, arguing that the government shutdown amounted to "hostage-taking" civil servants and that negotiations could only begin once the government was reopened.On January 25, 2019, Trump agreed to endorse a stopgap bill to reopen the government for three weeks up until February 15 to allow for negotiations to take place to approve an appropriations bill that both parties could agree on. However, Trump reiterated his demand for the border wall funding and said that he would shut down the government again or declare a national emergency and use military funding to build the wall if Congress did not appropriate the funds by February 15.Trump's approval rating decreased significantly during the shutdown. A majority of Americans opposed exploitation of the shutdown as a negotiating strategy and held Trump responsible for the shutdown: A CBS News poll found that 71% of Americans considered the border wall "not worth the shutdown" and a poll by The Washington Post and ABC News found that 53% of Americans blamed Trump and Republicans for the shutdown, compared to 34% who blamed Democrats and 10% who blamed both parties.On February 15, 2019, President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency in order to bypass the United States Congress, after being unsatisfied with a bipartisan border bill that had passed the House of Representatives and the Senate a day before.

Appropriations bill (United States)

In the United States Congress, an appropriations bill is legislation to appropriate federal funds to specific federal government departments, agencies and programs. The money provides funding for operations, personnel, equipment and activities. Regular appropriations bills are passed annually, with the funding they provide covering one fiscal year. The fiscal year is the accounting period of the federal government, which runs from October 1 to September 30 of the following year. Appropriations bills are under the jurisdiction of the United States House Committee on Appropriations and the United States Senate Committee on Appropriations. Both Committees have twelve matching subcommittees, each tasked with working on one of the twelve annual regular appropriations bills.

There are three types of appropriations bills: regular appropriations bills, continuing resolutions, and supplemental appropriations bills. Regular appropriations bills are the twelve standard bills that cover the funding for the federal government for one fiscal year and that are supposed to be enacted into law by October 1. If Congress has not enacted the regular appropriations bills by the time, it may pass a continuing resolution, which generally continues the pre-existing appropriations at the same levels as the previous fiscal year (or with minor modifications) for a set amount of time. If Congress fails to pass an appropriation bill or a continuing resolution, or if the President vetoes a passed bill, it may result in a government shutdown. The third type of appropriations bills are supplemental appropriations bills, which add additional funding above and beyond what was originally appropriated at the beginning of the fiscal year. Supplemental appropriations bills can be used for things like disaster relief.

Appropriations bills are one part of a larger United States budget and spending process. They are preceded in that process by the president's budget proposal, congressional budget resolutions, and the 302(b) allocation. Article I, section 9, clause 7 of the U.S. Constitution states that "No money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law..." This is what gives Congress the power to make these appropriations. The President, however, still has the power to veto appropriations bills. However, the President does not have line-item veto authority so that he must either sign the entire bill into law or veto it.

Continuing resolution

In the United States, a continuing resolution (often abbreviated to CR) is a type of appropriations legislation. An appropriations bill is a bill that appropriates (gives to, sets aside for) money to specific federal government departments, agencies, and programs. The money provides funding for operations, personnel, equipment, and activities. Regular appropriations bills are passed annually, with the funding they provide covering one fiscal year. The fiscal year is the accounting period of the federal government, which runs from October 1 to September 30 of the following year. When Congress and the president fail to agree on and pass one or more of the regular appropriations bills, a continuing resolution can be passed instead. A continuing resolution continues the pre-existing appropriations at the same levels as the previous fiscal year (or with minor modifications) for a set amount of time. Continuing resolutions typically provide funding at a rate or formula based on the previous year's funding. The funding extends until a specific date or regular appropriations bills are passed, whichever comes first. There can be some changes to some of the accounts in a continuing resolution. The continuing resolution takes the form of a joint resolution, and may provide bridging funding for existing federal programs at current, reduced, or expanded levels.


In the United States, a furlough (; from Dutch: verlof, "leave of absence") is a temporary leave of employees due to special needs of a company or employer, which may be due to economic conditions at the specific employer or in the economy as a whole. These involuntary furloughs may be short or long term, and many of those affected may seek other temporary employment during that time.

Government shutdowns in the United States

Government shutdowns, in United States politics, refer to a funding gap period that causes a full or partial shutdown of federal government operations and agencies. They are caused when there is a failure to pass a funding legislation to finance the government for its next fiscal year and/or a temporary funding measure, and primarily occurs when there is a disagreement over a proposed spending bill within the United States government. Ever since a 1980 interpretation of the 1884 Antideficiency Act, a “lapse of appropriation” due to a political impasse on proposed appropriation bills requires that the US federal government curtail agency activities and services, close down non-essential operations, furlough non-essential workers, and only retain essential employees in departments covering the safety of human life and/or protection of property. Voluntary services in these respective essential areas may only be accepted during emergencies.As of 12 February 2019, since the enactment of the US government's current budget and appropriations process in 1976, there have been a total of 22 funding gaps in the federal budget, of which 10 of these have led to federal employees being furloughed; shutdowns are also possible at occurring within and disrupting state, territorial, and local levels of government. Prior to 1980, funding gaps did not always lead to full or partial government shutdowns, until Attorney General Benjamin Civiletti issued his legal opinion on funding gaps in accordance with the Antideficiency Act, which defined his interpretation of what federal agencies should do during funding gaps until the enactment of an appropriation bill and what exceptions were allowed during this period. Since 1981, the practice has been to shut down the government when a funding gap occurs, though not all funding gaps since Civiletti's opinions have contributed to a shutdown - for example, a funding gap that occurred for nine hours on 9 February 2018 did not result in a shutdown of the government.Some of the most significant shutdowns in US history have included: three major shutdowns in the 1980s during the Presidential term of Ronald Reagan over opposition to proposal against his political beliefs; the 21-day shutdown of 1995-1996 during the Presidential term of Bill Clinton over opposition to major spending cuts; the 16-day shutdown in 2013 during the Presidential term of Barack Obama caused by an argument between Democrats and Republicans over measures concerning the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; and the 35-day shutdown of 2018-2019 during the Presidential term of Donald Trump, the longest shutdown in US history, caused by a refusal from Democrats to approve funding a new US–Mexico border wall.The effect of shutdowns include the disruption of government services and programmes, the closure of national parks and institutions (in particular, due to shortages of federal employees), the loss of revenue within specific sectors such as government contracts, a significant reduction in economic growth (depending on the length of the shutdown), and costing the government millions to compensate for lost labour and the eventual restarting of federal operations. During the 2013 shutdown, Standard & Poor's, the financial ratings agency, stated on October 16 that the shutdown had "to date taken $24 billion out of the economy", and "shaved at least 0.6 percent off annualized fourth-quarter 2013 GDP growth".

January 2018 United States federal government shutdown

The United States federal government shutdown of January 2018 began at midnight EST on Saturday, January 20, 2018, and ended on the evening of Monday, January 22. The shutdown began after a failure to pass legislation to fund government operations and agencies. This stemmed from disputes over the extension of status of persons affected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration policy, and therefore whether those covered under the program should face deportation. There was also a dispute over whether funding should be allocated towards building a Mexico–United States border wall, a keystone policy during Donald Trump's presidential campaign. According to estimates by the New York Times, 692,900 workers were furloughed during the shutdown.

List of agencies affected by the 2018–19 United States federal government shutdown

The following is a list of government agencies and operations affected by the 2018–19 United States federal government shutdown.

List of agencies affected by the United States federal government shutdown of 2013

The following is a list of government agencies and operations affected by the United States federal government shutdown of 2013.

National Park Foundation

The National Park Foundation (NPF) is the official charity of the United States' National Park Service and its 417 national park sites. The NPF was chartered by Congress in 1967 to "further the conservation of natural, scenic, historic, scientific, educational, inspirational, or recreational resources for future generations of Americans." The NPF raises private funds for the benefit of, or in connection with, the activities and services of the National Park Service.

Our Cartoon President

Our Cartoon President is an American animated satirical television series that premiered on February 11, 2018, on Showtime. The series was created by Stephen Colbert, Chris Licht, Matt Lapin, Tim Luecke, and R. J. Fried and is based on a recurring segment from Colbert's late night talk show The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. On January 22, 2019, it was announced that the series had been renewed for a second season.

Timeline of the Donald Trump presidency (2018 Q4)

The following is a timeline of the presidency of Donald Trump during the fourth quarter of 2018. To navigate among quarters, see Timeline of the Donald Trump presidency.

Timeline of the Donald Trump presidency (2019 Q1)

The following is a timeline of the presidency of Donald Trump during the first quarter of 2019. To navigate quarters, see Timeline of the Donald Trump presidency.

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