Daily Dose: Another Government Shutdown?

The term “March Madness” is about to take on a whole new meaning, and I’m not talking about basketball…

With the March 4th cutoff date fast approaching, there is one question that continues to loom in the minds of govies everywhere- what if the federal government is forced to face another shutdown? Chris Cillizza over at the Washington Post recently tackled this question and more in his multimedia article:

Fast Fix: Another Government Shutdown?

“The last time the federal government shut down was in 1995 when President Bill Clinton and House Speaker Newt Gingrich played a game of political chicken over the budget. Clinton ultimately carried the day politically and used the momentum he gained from that victory to score a crushing reelection win in 1996.”

There is no doubt that such a situation would deal a significant blow to the nation’s economic and political economy. But what about the hundreds of thousands of faithful public servants who are, for the most part, innocent bystanders? How would a total government shutdown affect them?

Of course, the answers to these questions and others will continue to haunt the majority of us while the budget battle continues to rage behind closed doors. But in the meantime…

What do you think? Are we headed for another federal standstill, or can our friends on the Hill work out their differences by the Spring? What are the political and economic ramifications if they don’t?


“Daily Dose of the Washington Post” is a blog series created by GovLoop in partnership with The Washington Post. If you see great stories in the Post and want to ask a question around it, please send them to[email protected].

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Stephen Peteritas

Another Gov’t shutdown would A) suck and B) would be interesting to see who budged first… in this political climate I would have to think it’d be the president.

Andrew Krzmarzick

In our live chat with the Washington Post on Tuesday, expert Eric Yoder said:

I personally don’t think there will be a shutdown because the last time there was a big one, in late 1995, the GOP overplayed its hand and Clinton came out looking very good with a boost to his reelection the following year. I don’t think they want to risk repeating that. It’s easy enough to keep passing short-term extensions. They’re on their third or fourth one this fiscal year already.

Let’s hope he’s right!

Shannon Donelson

Although it would be interesting to see what would happen, a shut down would be aweful. Hoping everything gets sorted out pronto.

John Evans

I agree that a shutdown would be bad, but perhaps one is needed to remind the public and certain politicians just how much they need and depend on government employees. Some kind of counter to the lies and political propaganda being circulated as fact is sorely needed. If a shutdown blows up in Boehner’s face, well, ” so be it.”

Lisa Roper

I think there will be a shutdown. As a 1995 survivor, I think this one has potential to be much worse. Washington will be lucky to last 2 weeks! This will have a major effect on their local economy as well.

Allen Sheaprd

I’d call my self a 1995 survivor but we did not shut down. Some “quality of life” databases had to keep working. Not everything stopped. This time round, Homeland security should stay open.

Back in ’95 those sent home got back pay so they did not loose any money. It was tight not having a paycheck for several weeks.

@Lisa – yes the shutdown hits the DC are hard but its the DC area. 99% of America does not feel it.

IMO – it could last a good month.

How many are whishing it would happen in June or July when the weather is nicer ?

As for short term extensions – yes. Ohhh its painful. I hope the pain drives home the point of not living on credit. Its easier to spend money with an empty credit card than when one has to call the back every couple of months to “raise their limit” 14.1 trillion dollars is alot of credit. Why raise it to 16 trillion ?

Lisa Roper

I would have to disagree with you in that 99% of America does not feel it.

If recreation areas are all closed including places like Yosemite….they feel it!

I think it could effect local economies as well.

Allen Sheaprd


Good point. Popular parks like Yosemite would impact many people and the local economy.

I can not remember if they shut down in ’95 or not. I think they did. I would hate to be in a station wagon with three kids four hundred miles from home and find the park closed. (Think “Wally World”)

I wonder what would close and what would stay open? FAA – FCC – FDA – NASA – ???

Tamara White

I don’t consider myself to be politically savvy, but I believe a shut down would only make the economy worse. I think the federal workforce makes up the majority percent of the workforce across this country, and many americans are just beginning to come out from under. Many are living paycheck to paycheck, and beginning to catch up on bills. For the workforce it would mean their bills may get backed up again, mortgages will be late, and so on. I wonder how retailers are affected at the hint of the shutdown? No one is going to spend because they need to save for their money for the rainy day. For those impacted by the services, well if grants officers are not there to process grants,states and local agencies that recieve federal funds and services will be effected. It seems to me it would be a slippery slope back into a recession. Of course I could be wrong, I’m not an economist.

Ginny Ivanoff

I agree with Allen that a shutdown could last as long as a month — but 99% of Amercia not being affected? Get some caffiene and wake up! Tthere are many areas of the country where the Federal Gov. or bueinesses that serve the government is/are the largest employer, besides the DC-megaopolis, where the effects are going to be devastating to the economy.

I know the news is claiming SS checks won’t be affected — true — during the ’95 fulrough, a skeleton crew ensured the checks would get out, but few, if any new claims will be processed. For those of you too junior in the government to remember the shutdowns in the mid-90’s, parks/museums closed, passports went unprocessed, toxic waste clean up stopped, the NIH ceased accepting patients for trial studies, veteran’s regular operations were cut back, grants and contracting pretty much stopped. Operations/procurements will slow, becuse most of the support staff is what an agency deems, usually, as unessential.

I already have lower grade workers here frightened because they don’t have a month’s worth of savings to tide them over (no comments at this time on that – it’s for another discussion). They are frightened and much of what Tamara said will be true. Most folks don’t truly understand how much of the private sector’s economic health depends upon the US Governement.

As soon as someone with some clout and or a Business becomes incovenienced during a shutdown, they will complain mightily. The average citizen was so incensed and exacted revenge on Congress in the next election.

Meghan Benedict

I am afraid that there will be a shutdown. This new congress appears to refuse to compromise. I work for the IRS at a call site answering tax law and where is my refund questions. This is the WORST time of year to shut the government down because so many people are waiting for their refunds. People tell me they need their refunds to get caught up on their bills. Schedule A filers were already angry that they were delayed until February 14 to file. A shut down would cause serious detriment to tax payers especially those who get the Earned Income Credit.

Martin Gruss

Obama’s poll numbers may be lower, but the numbers for Congress are even lower. I think America see’s it as the job of Congress to get the budget passed moreso then Obama’s. Once again, if the shut down happens, it will be to the detriment of the Republicans and Congress.


I think Meghan has a huge point – the last shutdown was Dec-Jan timeframe if I recall correctly – a shut down in March would be something that impacts many – nationwide – unless the IRS processors are deemed essential? What is frustrating is the lack of communication regarding the plan. OMB keeps saying that the plans are in place, and continually updated, but nothing has been done to communicate to government employees regarding who must work, and who cannot (understand that working for free is actually deemed illegal). Have any of you been notified officially of your agency’s plan?

Ginny Ivanoff

Maria – it is not for OMB to determine this. Contigency plans, in the event of a furlough, are left to each individual agency to work out.

Allen Sheaprd


Good point about the IRS. People are waiting for checks or to pay additional taxes.


With so many changes during the last election it would be bad for the President as well as congress. If the people want deeper cuts then so be it.

William Wylie

As a manager I have been briefing my employees as things develop. Because our job involves national security we’ll be working. I’ve also given my folks my insights as to how this shook out last time, what the likely impact will be for us (even though there’s no official word) and have cautioned them that they should lay aside a rainy day fund to make sure that they can get what they need when they need it.

For those of you out there who need funds to get by, my suggestion would be to look into a TSP loan for short term coverage. It’s not a great answer, but it may get you by if things go horribly wrong and you end up a victim of the shutdown.

Paul G. Claeyssens

I also feel a shutdown is a real possibility, given the stalemate in Congress as well as international events that are impacting the President and his staff. I have briefed my employees to plan ahead and also we are pulling the plug on any planned travel by 3/3 if no CR is in place beyound 3/4 just in case, as employees would be held responsibile, at least for now, with their travel expenses, flights, etc. while furloughed. As a 1995 survivor, we will get through this, and maybe we’ll see new alliances in the Congress and with the President as a result. Many who want a smaller government, will be the first to whine, when their gov largesse is impacted. Tea bags might be getting stale, time for a new infusion.

Michele Hope

The only thing I remember about the 95-96 shutdown is that apparently interns still reported for work (the Monica Lewinsky incident took place during this period). And of course, we got paid.

Allen Sheaprd


I hope you are right and the president goes for deeper cuts. The deficite has gone up over 3 trillion dollars from 10.6 to 14.1 just since 2009 – that is 30% While its not his fault, he did take action. He campained hard for years to have this job. We elected him to fix things. “Hope and Change” for the better.

I would be happy with 10.2 trillion dollar debt.

Plus the the last round of elections showed what people are thinking and want.

John Evans

I work for the IRS, and according to those who were around for the last shutdown, only the ACS ( automated collections services) employees and Revenue Officers were deemed essential, as their primary function is to collect revenue. Field Assistance ( the walk-in offices ), Toll-free ( the telephone assistors) and Submission Processing ( the data entry of paper returns ) were not. E-filed return processing may or may not stop, depending on if the IT people are essential or not. Return processing and issuance of refund checks is largely automated, but depends on a small cadre of skilled employees-if they are not deemed essential, those activities would likely halt.