The Facts Behind the Fiction: What a Government Shutdown Really Means
However, that might not mean what you think it means – hint: the military will still function, federal prisons will still keep bad guys locked up, veterans’ benefits and social security checks will still get processed.
Here’s your guide to understanding the real impact of a government “shutdown.”
The Heritage Foundation’s Hans A. von Spakovsky, a former attorney with the Department of Justice (DOJ), argues that even in the absence of active appropriations, the government will absolutely not simply come to a grinding halt on Oct. 1.
The U.S. Constitution clearly says the government can’t just spend money without specific Congressional authorization. Many people call this Congress’ “Power of the purse.”
Article 1, Section 9, Clause 7 says: “No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law.”
The key here is that government services that directly “preserve life and national security” are considered perpetually appropriated at a level Congress deems necessary to continue basic functionality according to the DOJ’s 1995 precedent.
Thus, federal police and military functions must continue even in the absence of a Continuing Resolution agreed upon by the House and Senate, signed by Obama.
Spakovsky argues that the DOJ’s 1995 Precedent mandates:
“Crucial services will continue without interruption. That includes all services essential for national security and public safety—such as the military and law enforcement—as well as mandatory government payments such as Social Security and veterans’ benefits.”
So, while it is true that some federal workers will be furloughed without pay in the event of a shutdown, the entire federal system will not collapse (as some hysterical Democrats would have you believe).
Combat troops will still be paid. Essential military operations will continue. Military members will not starve, nor will veterans lose their benefits.
However, that 1995 DOJ precedent also includes funding for essential diplomatic functions, which includes Presidential travel expenses!
That means even if the government shuts down on Oct. 1, Obama could still have another taxpayer-funded African “working vacation” if he wants to.
The shutdown would also not affect millions of federal employees because it turns out that millions of them are considered “crucial” employees.
Here’s a quick glance at how many people were affected by Bill Clinton’s 1995 shutdown:
“President Bill Clinton vetoed a CR and there was a funding gap for five days, only about 800,000 out of a total of 4.475 million federal employees were furloughed.
Only about 280,000 federal employees were furloughed during the December 1995 to January 1996 funding gap.”