Uncertainty shrouds Washington over possible shutdown of government activities

If Congress fails to act, the United States government’s authority to use its funds will expire at midnight Thursday (29/9). If this happens, more than a million federal workers and an undisclosed number of contractors will be forced to stop working. Meanwhile, thousands of other workers are expected to continue working without any certainty as to when they will be paid.

“The stakes are whether the American government is able to meet the many challenges it faces as a nation,” said Max Stier, chairman of the Partnership for Public Service, an advocacy group for a better federal government.

Stier added that restarting government activities after a halt was not as easy as turning the palm of the hand.

“This is a very complex trillion dollar entity,” he told FLY.

“So stopping and resuming it really takes a lot of energy and time. So, if there is a shutdown of government activities, the cost is very expensive, (reaching) billions of dollars, even though (the shutdown) doesn’t last long.”

Since 1980, the federal government has experienced 21 closures due to lack of funds.

It will be the first government shutdown in President Joe Biden’s term. Since President Jimmy Carter’s tenure from 1977 to 1981, every US president except George W. Bush has experienced at least one funding crisis of this kind, although the majority last only a few days and even hours.

The last time government activity was shut down was in 2018, when President Donald Trump and Democrats in congress clashed over his proposal to build a wall on the border between the US and Mexico which led to a record partial government shutdown that lasted 35 days through January 2019. (my/jm)

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