Possible Government Shutdown Pushed to 2024: What You Need to Know

The government faces a shutdown in early 2024.
Anna Helhoski
By Anna Helhoski 
Edited by Rick VanderKnyff

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Updated on Nov. 16.

With just days left until the government was headed for a potential shutdown, Congress passed a new continuing resolution.

The new stopgap will keep the government running until early 2024, but the extensions will be split, by department, into two new dates: Jan. 19 and Feb. 2.

A government shutdown would stop or reduce operations for national parks, benefits verification, food inspections and more. It would also send millions of federal workers home without pay for the duration.

All that is on the line unless Congress passes crucial budget appropriations or agrees on yet another funding extension.

What you need to know

  • Congress must fund 12 key appropriation bills in order to fund the government for its new fiscal year, which began Oct. 1. 

  • A last-minute stopgap was passed Sept. 30 and extended government funding through Nov. 17.

  • The new one stopgap extends funding into early 2024, again, split by department.

  • The looming shutdown is a test for newly elected House Speaker Mike Johnson, who led the two-step continuing resolution. The measure passed the House on Nov. 14 with crucial help from House Democrats.

  • The Senate passed the funding extension late on Nov. 15.

  • President Joe Biden is expected to sign it.

Why you should care

  • Shutdowns are disruptive for the federal government at large. For consumers, a government shutdown could result in various problems and inconveniences. 

  • Unless you work for the federal government, a government shutdown might not have an immediate impact on you. 

What happens during a shutdown

  • Nonessential services like national parks, customer service for the IRS and Federal Student Aid assistance will be suspended.

  • Essential services like air traffic control, national security, law enforcement, and power grid maintenance continue to operate.

  • Some essential services like benefit verifications for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid; food and environmental inspections; scientific research; and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may have reduced operations.

  • If you have travel plans, a shutdown could get in your way.

  • It could hamper your homebuying plans if you are trying to get a reverse mortgage or Title I loan insured by the Federal Housing Administration or a loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

  • The brunt of the disruption would fall on furloughed government workers. But all federal workers go without pay during a shutdown even if they’re not furloughed. Federal workers are paid retroactively once funding is restored.

The basics

  • There have been 21 government shutdowns since 1976, and most ended in under a week,  according to the Bipartisan Policy Center.

  • When Congress passes some of the required appropriations, but not all of them, it results in a partial shutdown.

  • The most recent shutdown, which was partial, lasted 34 days beginning in December 2018.  

What happens next

  • The continuing resolution splits the extension into two dates: Jan. 19 for military and veterans programs and the departments of transportation, housing and urban development, agriculture, as well as energy and water. And Feb. 2 for multiple other departments including the state, justice, defense, commerce, labor, as well as Health and Human Services. 

  • Lawmakers face added pressure to pass appropriations in the new year: the Fiscal Responsibility Act that was passed in spring includes a provision that says if a continuing resolution is in effect come Jan. 1, then the spending limit revises on its own — and that automatic revision includes a significant cut to defense, which would be at odds with House Republicans’ efforts to increase defense spending.

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images News via Getty Images)

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