Government Can’t Shut Down--Because 75% Is Already Funded

Emily Ward | December 14, 2018 | 10:18am EST
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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Vice President Mike Pence, President Donald Trump and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in the Oval Office on Dec. 11, 2018. (Getty Images/Mark Wilson)

( -- Seventy-five percent of the federal government is already funded through all of fiscal year 2019, according to the House Committee on Appropriations. That means a total government shutdown cannot happen.

On Sept. 21, President Donald Trump signed a "minibus" appropriations law that funded the Department of Energy; Military Construction and Veterans Affairs; and the Legislative Branch for the entirety of fiscal 2019, which does not end until next Sept. 30. Then, on Sept. 28, Trump signed another “minibus” law funding the departments of Defense, Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS) and Education through the end of fiscal year 2019.

“With the signing of this package today, Congress will have enacted the majority of all discretionary spending for the year--75%--prior to the end of the fiscal year, an accomplishment that hasn’t occurred in over two decades,” House Appropriations Chairman Rodney Ferlinghuysen (R.-N.J.) said when Trump signed that second "minibus."

Bloomberg reported that of the government’s $1.24 trillion discretionary budget (the part of the federal budget that is appropriated by Congress), $931 billion has already been appropriated and only $314 billion is still pending.

The Sept. 28 minibus included a continuing resolution to keep the rest of the departments funded until Dec. 7, 2018. On Dec. 3, Congress passed a short-term resolution changing the deadline to Dec. 21.

While many news outlets are flashing ominous headlines warning of a “looming government shutdown,” the reality is that only some of the smaller departments would be affected in the event of a partial shutdown. The two biggest departments, Defense and HHS, are already funded.

Of the potentially affected agencies, only nonessential government personnel would be unable to come to work – such as research scientists. Essential personnel, or government employees whose work is necessary to ensure the safety and security of Americans, would still do their jobs.

Border patrol agents, for example, are considered essential personnel. They would continue to work in the event of a partial shutdown, even though the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is not yet funded.

The delay in securing funding for the DHS and other departments is due, in large part, to a stalemate in Congress over proposed funding for President Donald Trump’s border wall. While Trump wants $5 billion to build the wall, Democrats are only willing to yield, so far, $1.3 billion.

On Tuesday, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Rep. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) visited the White House to discuss border wall funding with Trump. At the meeting, Trump said he would be “proud to shut down the government for border security.”

Other departments that are not yet funded include Transportation; Housing and Urban Development; Interior and the Environment; Commerce, Justice and Science; State; Financial Services and Agriculture.

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