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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Past Government Shutdowns: Key Resources - R41759

Jared C. Nagel and Justin Murray
Information Research Specialist

When federal government agencies and programs lack budget authority after the expiration of either full-year or interim appropriations, they experience a “funding gap.” Under the Antideficiency Act (31 U.S.C. § 1341 et seq.), they must cease operations, except in certain circumstances when continued activities are authorized by law. When there is a funding gap that affects many federal entities, the situation is often referred to as a government shutdown. In the past, there have occasionally been funding gaps that led to government shutdowns, the longest of which lasted 21 full days, from December 16, 1995, to January 6, 1996. The most recent shutdown occurred at the beginning of FY2014, starting on October 1, 2013, and lasted for a total of 16 full days.

The relevant laws that govern shutdowns have remained relatively constant in recent decades. However, agencies and officials may exercise some discretion in how they interpret the laws, and circumstances that confront agencies and officials may differ over time. Consequently, it is difficult to predict what might happen in the event of some future shutdown. Still, information about past events may offer some insight into possible outcomes and help inform future deliberations.

This report provides an annotated list of historical documents and other resources related to several past government shutdowns. Sources for these documents and resources include the Congressional Research Service (CRS), Government Accountability Office (GAO), House and Senate Committees, Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Office of Personnel Management (OPM), and Executive Office of the President. When possible, the report includes links to fulltext documents.

For more information about federal government shutdowns and funding gaps, see

• CRS Report RL34680, Shutdown of the Federal Government: Causes, Processes, and Effects, coordinated by Clinton T. Brass; and

• CRS Report RS20348, Federal Funding Gaps: A Brief Overview, by Jessica Tollestrup.

This report will be updated as additional resources are identified. 
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Date of Report: November 25, 2013
Number of Pages: 16
Order Number: R41759
Price: $29.95

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