Starting in 1976 — the year that the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 went into effect — the United States federal government has utilized its modern budget process.
To determine which federal agencies and programs receive funding appropriations, Congress has to pass budget legislation that must be signed by the President for the next fiscal year (FY), which begins October 1.
In total, this legislation consists of a dozen bills that are distributed to all 12 appropriations subcommittees.
If Congress and the President do not pass interim or full-year budget appropriations, the federal government shuts down.
Although there have been 20 “funding gaps” since 1976, only four shutdowns, including the 2018 – 2019 partial shutdown, have affected government operations for longer than one business day. In fact, prior to 1981, the government experienced gaps in funding rather than true shutdowns, during which significant numbers of workers are affected by furloughs.
When a shutdown occurs, the financial stalemate places a burden on the US economy and taxpayers. Furloughed employees usually get paid retroactively for their involuntary time off, not to mention that public museums and national parks have to compensate for losing out on ticket sales.
Here’s a look back at the most expensive shutdowns in US history: