What a Government Shutdown Really Means

The U.S. House late Thursday approved yet another continuing government spending resolution, and sent it to the Senate where the political game of blinkmanship – as in who blinks first – must be settled by midnight tonight or the government’s legal authority to spend money in certain areas ends until authority is regained.

The vote was 230-197, with six Democrats voting for the measure and 11 Republicans voting against it. Alabama’s Republican members voted for the resolution and the sole Democrat, U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell of Birmingham, voted against it.

In the Senate, the vote will be the first important one by new U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, D-Mountain Brook, and whether he’ll vote with or against U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa.

The continuing resolution is being used by Democrats to politically push complete amnesty for illegal immigrants, about 3.6 million, over U.S. government operations.

House Republicans attached a long-term extension to fully fund the Children’s Health Insurance Program for six years, which has an impact on Alabama’s General Fund decisions this year, and delays to several unpopular health-care taxes. The GOP chose poor children and military troops over illegal immigrants, the Washington Post reported.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., upped the stakes a bit when he said following the vote that House members could head home for a week’s break, the Post reported.

In reality, if it wasn’t for the Washington, D.C.-centered reports, a “government shutdown” wouldn’t mean much to the average American and probably wouldn’t even be noticed. As proof, here’s a trivia question: When was the last time the government “shut down” and how many times has it occurred? The answer below.

What happens is without agreement on 12 appropriation bills, a budget, or a continuing spending resolution to extend current spending authorizations, the federal government legally cannot spend money. Congress had until today to solve the spending issue.

The official version of the effect of a government shutdown has been compiled by the Congressional Research Service.

Here’s the view by Bloomberg:

Some federal government functions stop and about 40 percent of the workforce is temporarily furloughed. They’ll eventually be paid.

These usually close: national parks, monuments, Smithsonian museums in Washington, processing of passport and visa applications, new enrollments in experimental treatments under the National Institutes for Health, U.S. government website maintenance, mortgage approvals, the Labor Department monthly employment report, data on retail sales and housing starts, and a monthly report on industrial production, Bureau of Land Management drilling applications, and consideration of applications for small business loans.

Government functions that continue include national security, military service, air traffic control and law enforcement, VA medical care, the U.S. mail, U.S. Treasury debt auctions, Social Security and Medicare checks get mailed, food stamps are distributed, and federal courts are open, but work is subject to disruption.

Answer: There have been 12 shutdowns since 1981, ranging in duration from one day to 21 days, which occurred in December 1995 and January 1996.


U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, D-Mountain Brook, has been assigned to four important committees: The Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs; the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions; the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs; and, the Senate Special Committee on Aging.

“It is a tremendous honor to be given the opportunity to serve on these four important Senate committees,” Senator Jones said. “These assignments provide me with an avenue to begin working for the people of Alabama on issues such as creating long-term funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program and ensuring our nation’s safety from those who would do us harm. I am also looking forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate to protect programs that our seniors and middle-class Americans depend on.”

The Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs committee’s jurisdiction includes, but is not limited to, banking, insurance, financial markets, securities, housing, urban development and mass transit, international trade and finance, and economic policy.

The Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions has broad jurisdiction over our country’s health care, education, employment and retirement policies.

The Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs is the chief oversight committee and was formerly known as the Committee on Governmental Affairs. It has primary oversight responsibility for the Department of Homeland Security in 2003.

The Special Committee on Aging is the focal point in the Senate for discussion and debate on matters relating to older Americans.

Senator Jones won a December special election and took office as Alabama’s junior senator this month, succeeding U.S. Sen. Luther Strange, R-Mountain Brook, for the remainder of his term.

Roll Call has a readable take on the arrival of Senator Jones and U.S. Sen. Tina Smith, D-Minn., also.


Apple Inc. joins at least 100 U.S. businesses that have announced bonuses or other financial incentives to employees since the tax cut became law in December.

“Apple’s $38 billion tax commitment is the largest such sum announced in response to the major overhaul of the U.S. tax code that President Donald Trump signed into law late last year. That law included an incentive for U.S. companies to bring home offshore holdings, with companies required to pay a one-time tax of 15.5 percent on overseas profits held in cash and other liquid assets,” the Wall Street Journal reported.

Apple officially hasn’t said its bonus announcement is the result of President Trump’s tax cut that Republicans in the House and Senate passed, leaving that interpretation to “leaked” information.

“The iPhone maker will begin issuing stock grants to most employees worldwide in the coming months, said the people, who asked not to be identified because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly. The move comes on the same day Apple said it would bring back most of its cash from overseas and spend $30 billion in the U.S. over the next five years, funding an additional technical support campus, data centers and 20,000 new employees,” Bloomberg reported.


U.S. Chamber of Commerce to Push for 25-Cent, $375 Billion Gas Tax Increase for Infrastructure

Washington Post (Wagner 1/16) “With President Trump and Congress turning their attention to infrastructure in the coming weeks, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is preparing for an uphill battle: a push to raise the federal gas tax by 25 cents per gallon to help pay for the initiative.

“Chamber President Thomas J. Donohue said his organization wants ‘to put our oar in the water’ and acknowledged that it would be ‘a tough vote’ to raise the gas tax for the first time since 1993. But he said that support has been building in the business community and elsewhere.

“Trump said an infrastructure bill was a priority of his first 100 days in office – and one with potential for bipartisan support – but it was put on the back burner amid other bruising legislative battles over health care and tax restructuring. The White House has pledged to introduce its vision of a bill before Trump’s State of the Union address this month.

“As envisioned by the chamber, the 25-cent increase would be applied to the current taxes of 18.4 cents per gallon for gasoline and 24.4 cents per gallon for diesel fuel. It is estimated that the increased levy would raise more than $375 billion over the coming decade, chamber staff members said.”

Manufacturers See Positive Future From Tax Cut

Real Clear Politics (Timmons 1/5) “President Trump and Congress promised to pass tax reform by year’s end, and they delivered. Now manufacturers will deliver as well. With our new and internationally competitive tax code, manufacturers will hire more workers, create more well-paying jobs, invest in our communities and put more money in the pockets of manufacturing workers.

“The driving purpose behind tax reform was to create more opportunities for more Americans and to benefit manufacturing workers and their families directly. President Trump called tax reform ‘rocket fuel’ for the economy, and manufacturers strongly agreed. We’ve been given the fuel. Now we will put it to work.

“In the NAM’s latest quarterly Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey of our members, most respondents felt confident that tax reform would grow their businesses and help their workers. Sixty-three percent said comprehensive business tax reform would encourage their companies to spend more on their facilities and equipment, and 58 percent said they would expand their businesses. In addition, 54 percent said they would hire more workers, and almost half (49 percent) planned to increase wages and benefits.

“But while the numbers and rates are important, it is the people whose lives will change that really matter. There are working moms who will be able to put away more money for their children’s future or save enough for that home down payment. There are young people looking for work who will find newly created jobs-jobs that are rewarding and pay well. There are workers on the shop floor who will see bigger paychecks. There are entrepreneurs who will be able to dream bigger dreams.”