After a very brief lapse in funding in February, the next government shutdown deadline is March 23 2018, after 11:59 pm. A March 2018 government shutdown will affect most federal employees and contractors beginning March 26 2018, if no spending bill is passed. A March 2018 shutdown would be the third in a tumultuous new year.

We provide more details of the proposed March 2018 spending bill here.

Government Shutdowns in 2018

There have been two shutdowns in 2018 so far.  Both of these shutdowns have been minimally disruptive, compared to the 2013 shutdown.  The first government shutdown in 2018 was just over a day, with many federal employees being furloughed for one business day (although funding lapsed for 69 hours). The second one, on February 9 2018 was even less disruptive.  While funding lapsed for nearly 9 hours, very few employees were affected because funding was authorized prior to Federal Agencies needing to provide employees furlough notices.

There aren’t any reports of government employees being furloughed on February 9. But at least one user on twitter suggested that some night shift workers went home.

 

2018 is tending to be like the 1980s, a period when there was 4 one-day government shutdown. But this February 9 2018 shutdown is the shortest in history.

What was new in the funding bill

Pictured is Rand Paul who stalled a vote causing the February 2018 shutdown and may contribute to a March 2018 government shutdown
Rand Paul and other budget hawks may contribute to a March 2018 shutdown

The new spending bill kept the government funded for six weeks and included a lot of increased spending. This is actually the cause for the brief shutdown, when budget hawk Rand Paul successfully stalled the vote. There is nearly $300 billion in increased spending – $165 billion for the military and $131 billion for domestic programs.

There was about $90 billion provided for disaster relief efforts in Puerto Rico, Texas and Florida after a year of many natural disasters in 2017.

Additionally, on the healthcare side of things – there was an extension of funding for CHIP to make the program funded for a decade (four additional years from the 6 years originally legislated to reopen the government in January), and an extension of funds for community health centers.  Also, it removed an element of the ACA (Obamacare) called the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB).  IPAB had the authority to make changes to Medicare if costs were rising too quickly, but it’s effectiveness has never had to be tested.

March 2018 government shutdown

The increase in spending in the February continuing resolution upset many budget hawks.  While immigration was a factor in the two earlier shutdowns, this seems to be less of a priority for many Democrats  But it may still contribute towards a March 2018 government shutdown as sanctuary cities and border security remain priorities for President Trump.

There is still a possibility for a long term spending bill in March 2018.  But another continuing resolution or another federal government shutdown are possible as well.  Neither party is making concessions just yet and a compromise is necessary.  Republicans need 9 Democrats on board to pass anything through the Senate.

While many lawmakers are weary of another continuing resolution, this may be par for course until.  This could be the status quo until 2018 midterms.  This is bad for the military which needs funding and budget certainty for its projects and planning.