Center for American Progress

RELEASE: 5 Reasons Why Careening From Near Shutdown to Near Shutdown Is Bad for America

RELEASE: 5 Reasons Why Careening From Near Shutdown to Near Shutdown Is Bad for America

Washington, D.C. — Shutdowns—and the threat of looming shutdowns—have become a common bargaining chip to achieve policy outcomes, even when a budget deal has already been negotiated. Some conservative members of Congress are insisting on adding extreme partisan riders to government funding bills—or else force a government shutdown. A new Center for American Progress article outlines 5 ways that careening from near shutdown to near shutdown is bad for Americans and American democracy. These include:

  1. Weakened services for Americans as agencies prepare for shutdowns. The federal government is a workforce. Each time a shutdown looms, managers must take time away from other tasks to field worries from staff about pay uncertainty, furloughs, and process. 
  2. Reduced workload for agencies in cases of shutdowns. A continual cycle of continuing resolutions means that different agencies could be under threat from furloughs depending on which elements of the federal budget Congress has agreed to. Even for workers who remain on the job, financial worries can limit their ability to focus at work or their interest in remaining on the job—because they may not receive a paycheck for the duration of the shutdown. Potential shutdowns being constantly in the news will remind federal employees that their jobs and paychecks can depend on political grandstanding.
  3. Increased administrative burdens for government interactions. While some components of the federal government would cease altogether for the duration of a shutdown, others would likely slow or halt service delivery, while still accumulating backlogs of those who need the service. This can cause unnecessary concerns and confusion for Americans about which benefits may or may not be available during each shutdown. 
  4. Diminished trust in government. At a time when Americans’ trust in government is near historic lows, the ongoing threat of shutdowns is further undermining the public’s faith in government and elected leaders. It’s imperative for the health of American democracy that the government and political parties work to strengthen the public’s faith in institutions.
  5. A tarnished international image and reputation. The increasing and drawn out threats of government shutdowns only serve to show a divided and increasingly volatile domestic image to both international allies and adversaries, which only weakens the United States’ reputation as a global leader.

“While avoiding a federal government shutdown is important, the chaos of constant shutdown threats, uncertainties about funding, and patchwork continuing resolutions are still detrimental to the government’s ability to provide services and the health of American democracy. The certainty of federal work shouldn’t be held hostage to political grandstanding,” said Lily Roberts, managing director for Inclusive Growth at CAP. 

“To live up to the standards of a government that is of, for, and by the people, House Republican Leadership must stop exploiting the threat of shutdowns for meager and short-lived political gain,” said Greta Bedekovics, associate director of Democracy Policy at CAP. 

 Read the issue brief: “5 Ways Careening from Near Shutdown to Near Shutdown Is Bad for America” by Lily Roberts and Greta Bedekovics 

For more information or to speak with an expert, please contact Sarah Nadeau [email protected]

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