Today is Tuesday, March 1st. Congress’ continuing budget resolution (CR) that has kept the government funded will expire on Friday, March 4th at the end of the day. While Congress is still negotiating a deal that would extend the current CR for two weeks to allow for further talks about the impasse between the Republicans and Democrats regarding spending priorities.
The last shutdown of the government took place in late 1995/early 1996, when the government closed for 21 days, shuttering the National Parks, the Smithsonian, and putting almost all of the Federal Workforce on furlough. The exceptions have to do with protection of “life and property,” but many functions of government will be stopped in its tracks for the period.
That means that 234,000 people who work in government who live in the DC area may be facing an unplanned furlough, and those are just the ones who work directly for government agencies. Those who contract to the government will be in a bit of a bind, as well, as they won’t be able to be on-site and working for a government that’s not operating. In the 1995-1996 shutdown, the contracting firms took a bath on the shutdown, as the government never compensated them for the shutdown time, as they did for government workers.
The District, though it gets much of its funding from the Federal Government, may not be as directly affected. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton filed an amendment to a must-pass transportation bill that would allow the DC government to use its locally-raised funds to continue operations during a shutdown, but it was rejected by the rules committee late this afternoon. With it failing, Mayor Gray could potentially use his office to classify DC government employees as “emergency” staff as Mayor Barry did in 1995 before the shutdown, but it’s not clear if the Mayor is going to explore this option.
We’ll be exploring shutdown related issues in the next few days as we get closer to the end of the current CR.
Update: Congress has agreed to keep things going for another two weeks, so the Shutdown Countdown is now 17 days.