April 8, 2011

US Federal Shutdown explained

U.S. Capitol, DCImage by Francisco Diez via Flickr
So It seems that in less than 24 hours the United States Federal Government will shut down unless a last minute resolution is reached, what does it mean exactly, full report on the shutdown process can be found at the US Congress Archive: http://democrats.rules.house.gov/archives/98-844.pdf

An extract on what happened the last time can be found below:

Effects on the Public

The long shutdown that began in December 1995 affected many members of the
public. A few examples, taken from congressional hearings, press and agency accounts,
! Health. New patients were not accepted into clinical research at the
National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Center; the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention ceased disease surveillance (information
about the spread of diseases, such as AIDS and flu, were unavailable);
hotline calls to NIH concerning diseases were not answered; and toxic
waste clean-up work at 609 sites stopped, resulting in 2,400 “Superfund”
workers being sent home.
! Law Enforcement/Public Safety. Delays occurred in the processing of
alcohol, tobacco, firearms, and explosives applications by the Bureau of
Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms; work on more than 3,500 bankruptcy
cases was suspended; cancellation of the recruitment and testing of
federal law-enforcement officials occurred, including the hiring of 400
border patrol agents; and delinquent child-support cases were suspended.
! Parks/Museums/Monuments. Closure of 368 National Park Service
sites (loss of 7 million visitors) occurred, with local communities near
national parks losing an estimated $14.2 million per day in tourism
revenues; and closure of national museums and monuments (estimated
loss of 2 million visitors) occurred.
! Visas/Passports. 20,000-30,000 applications by foreigners for visas
went unprocessed each day; 200,000 U.S. applications for passports went
unprocessed; and U.S. tourist industries and airlines sustained millions
of dollars in losses.
! American Indian/Other Native Americans. All 13,500 Department of
Interior Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) employees were furloughed;
general assistance payments for basic needs to 53,000 BIA benefit
recipients were delayed; and estimated 25,000 American Indians did not
receive timely payment of oil and gas royalties.
! American Veterans. Major curtailment in services, ranging from health
and welfare to finance and travel was experienced.
! Federal Contractors. Of $18 billion in Washington area contracts, $3.7
billion (over 20%) were managed by agencies affected by the funding
lapse;10 the National Institute of Standards, was unable to issue a new
standard for lights and lamps, scheduled to be effective January 1, 1996;
and employees of federal contractors were furloughed without pay.

Worth noting that there have been 17 shutdowns since 1977. The last one, in 1995-1996 (for six days in November 1995 and three weeks from December 1995 to January 1996) cost $1.4bn. 

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