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Countdown to Government Shutdown

An employee of the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., hangs a sign on the door in 1995 explaining the reason for the museum closure.(STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images)

photo of Carrie Mihalcik
March 29, 2011

 

 

The House and Senate have until April 8 to extend the federal budget before the current stopgap spending measure expires. If no agreement is reached this week, then parts of the federal government would shut down.

 

The last time the government shut down was 1995-96, when Congress twice failed to pass a budget bill while former President Clinton was in office. Here’s a look at some federal services that shut down then—and could again:

Veterans’ services: Disability benefits and pension claims were held up for more then 400,000 veterans during the last budget standoff.

National museums, monuments, and parks: Nine million visitors were turned away as museums, monuments, and 368 national parks closed.

Visa and passport services: Some passport agencies shut down altogether while others operated with minimal staff. Thousands of visa and passport applications went unprocessed.

Health services: New patients were not accepted into clinical research trials at the National Institutes of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stopped disease surveillance, according to a report compiled by the Congressional Research Service.

Federal employees: During the five-day shutdown in November 1995, an estimated 800,000 “non-essential” employees were sent home. According to law, the government is forbidden to accept services from employees and pay them while the government is not being funded. Employees sent home in the 1995 shutdown were eventually paid retroactively.

During the longer 21-day shutdown at the end of the year that ran into 1996, about 284,000 federal workers were furloughed, according to ABC News.

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