What you need to know about government shutdowns and the debt ceiling – NBC4 Washington


The White House is bracing for a possible government shutdown as leaders struggle to pass a budget by the end of this month.

Each year, Congress must approve a federal budget that will fund the government for the next 12 months. It consists of 12 supply bills, one for each supply committee.

The federal government’s budget calendar runs from October 1 to September 30, which means a shutdown will occur if lawmakers do not pass a budget by the end of September.

What are the causes of a government shutdown?

A government shutdown is the result of leaders who disagree on how much to spend on future bills.

Democrats and Republicans often find themselves in a bind when either party tries to include partisan amendments or priorities in a budget bill.

If they don’t have a budget in place by early October, the government is required to scale back agency activities and shut down non-essential operations.

Government shutdowns have occurred several times over the past 10 years, most recently twice under former President Donald Trump.

Which agencies could close if the government closed its doors?

Most federal government agencies and programs depend on annual funding appropriations passed by Congress.

Although many programs are exempt, the public is still likely to feel the impact of a government shutdown.

In the event of a complete closure, the following branches would be impacted:

  • Social security and health insurance: Checks will still be sent, however, benefit verification and card issuance would stop.
  • Tax Service (IRS): The IRS would not be able to provide its normal income verification service and Social Security numbers.
  • Health and social services: The National Institutes of Health (NIH) would be barred from admitting new patients or processing grant applications.
  • Supplementary Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Transportation Safety Administration (TSA): At a previous stop, long lines plagued air travelers as some TSA agents did not show up for work because they were not paid.
  • Environmental Protection Agency
  • Food and drug administration
  • National parks

Essential services including border protection, hospital medical care, air traffic control, law enforcement and maintenance of the electricity grid would continue to function.

What is the US debt ceiling?

The debt ceiling is the amount of debt that the US government is legally allowed to carry.

Congress can either vote to increase the borrowing limit to a certain dollar amount or suspend it until a certain date when the limit would be imposed regardless of the level of debt that day.

Here’s the problem: The debt ceiling prevents the US government from honoring spending that has already occurred. Raising or suspending the debt ceiling does not authorize new federal spending but allows the treasury to continue paying receipts for purchases made by the government weeks or months ago.

What is the US debt ceiling?

The cap is now $ 28.4 trillion. Under the Trump administration, the debt ceiling has been suspended three times. The latest suspension – adopted on a bipartisan basis in 2019, when debt stood at $ 22 trillion – ended in July.

Since then, the Treasury Department has embarked on what it calls extraordinary measures to keep the government functioning.

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