Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FSU chapter.

Oct. 1, 2023 would’ve been the day the government shut down if no agreement had been reached in Congress, but luckily, this shutdown crisis was averted. The last time the government was faced with this exact situation, the government did, in fact, shut down for the final days of 2018 and into early 2019. This 34-day suspension of non-essential federal functions from Dec. 22, 2018 to Jan. 25, 2019 ended with Congress reaching an agreement. Here, I will explain what exactly happens during a government shutdown and why the country almost reached another impasse in government functions.

While the most recent possible government shutdown was avoided mere hours before the Sunday, Oct. 1 deadline, many of us still have questions that this article will attempt to answer.

What causes a government shutdown?

In the United States Constitution, Congress is given the power to pass legislation that will fund the government. The “12 appropriation bills” (appropriation of the budget bills) will determine funding for the fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1 and ends Sep. 30 of the following year. If both the House of Representatives and the Senate (AKA Congress) are unable to reach an agreement (that will then get signed off by the President) on how the funding is going to be appropriated and what the budget is going to be, then the government cannot function due to the lack of funding. The deadline for the almost government shutdown this past September was Sunday, Oct. 1, but a “stopgap funding bill” was passed late on Saturday, Sep. 30 to keep the government open until November. 

Wait, So the government is only open until November?

Because of the fast-approaching midnight deadline, both parties signed off on a temporary bill to keep the government open until Nov. 17. What is not in this temporary bill includes funding for Ukraine support and another major point of contention, the border security funding appropriation. At this point, Congress has another month to pass the rest of the funding appropriation for the remainder of the 2023 fiscal year. 

What is the budget for the next fiscal year?

According to the Consolidated Appropriations Act, the agreement was reached for $1.7 trillion in discretionary resources for the 2023 fiscal year. A summary report from the House Committee on Appropriations detailed the following: 

  • $25.5 billion in funding for Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies
  • $858 billion in defense funding 
  • $800 billion in non-defense funding

What actually happens during a government shutdown?

When the government shuts down, many government employees are not able to go to their jobs because everything considered a “non-essential federal function” is suspended. As many as 2.2 million people work for government agencies. The brink of the government calling a shutdown would mean a furlough for the majority. CNN estimates the 1.3 million active-duty military personnel, including troops, would be another large group that would feel the shutdown effects immediately if their agencies aren’t funded. Social Security and Medicare usually go unaffected because these programs are authorized by laws that do not need to be approved annually by Congress, unlike almost everything else. 

Does this have an effect on the economy?

You hear a lot about the economic detriment and it’s true. If such a large part of the workforce isn’t working, this can cause ripple effects in different economic sectors that leave our economy restricted if the shutdown lasts more than a couple of days. The longer it goes on has been said to be correlated with greater economic effects, but for this, tune in to what the economists are saying

Well… Now What? 

For what happens next, the short answer is: we wait. The long-term spending bill must be produced before Nov. 17, and if it’s not, this could have serious repercussions. We could be looking at the brink of yet another government shutdown if this month doesn’t end with a signed formal budget by President Joe Biden. 

Questions and thoughts to keep in mind

  • Is this particular way of governance working if every so often millions of people could lose their jobs? 
  • How can you keep in mind those you know who work for or have family who work for the government during the high-stress possibility of furlough?
  • Where are we spending too much money and where are we not spending enough?

If you’re interested, take a look at a timeline of past U.S. government shutdowns and/or how a government shutdown could impact you and your family. Reading, educating yourself and others, and staying in the know are valuable ways to be politically aware during times like these.

Want to see more HCFSU? Be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and Pinterest!

Makenna is from Miami, Florida, and is currently studying Political Science. She enjoys drinking coffee and finding new coffee shops. She loves music, movies, makeup, reading, and is always open for movie recommendations!