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Journal
2015 | 16 | 69-97
Article title

The Law and Practice of Government Shutdowns in the United States

Title variants
Languages of publication
EN
Abstracts
EN
This article analyzes the legal rules governing operations of the federal government of the United States during lapses of appropriations (commonly known as government shutdowns). After briefly explaining what government shutdowns are and when they happen, it presents the main sources of the applicable law, starting with its statutory basis – the Antideficiency Act. After analyzing the history, purpose, and text of that statute, the article presents two official opinions of the Attorney General which interpreted the Act to require suspension of non‑essential government operations during funding gaps. The article then proceeds to delineate statutory and implied exceptions to that requirement. Its second part consists of an analysis of actual administration practice during shutdowns. On the basis of agency contingency plans posted during the 2013 shutdown, it identifies the government activities that continued despite the shutdown, and briefly describes each activity’s scale and the legal basis for it being exempt from the generally applicable rules. It concludes that while there have been disputes about the administration’s handling of the shutdown, the agency’s practice was generally consistent with the legal rules, though the statutory framework itself would benefit from congressional revision and clarification.
Keywords
Journal
Year
Issue
16
Pages
69-97
Physical description
Contributors
  • Institute of Political Science and International Relations Jagiellonian University, Kraków, Poland
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  • An Act making Appropriations to supply Deficiencies in the Appropriations for the Execution of Reconstruction Acts, &c.. Feb. 12, 1868. 40th Cong., 2nd Sess., c. 8. 15 Stat. 35 (1868).
  • An Act making Appropriations to supply Deficiencies in the Appropriations for the Fiscal Year ending June 30, 1905, and for prior Years, and for other Purposes. Mar. 3, 1905. 58th Cong., 3rd Sess., c. 1484. 33 Stat. 1214 (1905).
  • An Act making Appropriations to supply Urgent Deficiencies in the Appropriations for the Fiscal Year ending June 30, 1906, and for prior Years, and for other Purposes. Feb. 27, 1906. 59th Cong., 1st Sess., c. 510. 34 Stat. 27 (1906).
  • An Act to increase the Pay of the Privates in the Regular Army and in the Volunteers in the Service of the United States, and for other Purposes. Aug. 6, 1861. 37th Cong., 1st Sess., c. 63, § 3. 12 Stat. 326 (1861).
  • Annual and Sick Leave Act of 1951. Pub. L. No. 82‑233, Title II. 65 Stat. 679 (1951).
  • Budget Control Act of 2011. Pub. L. No. 112‑25. 125 Stat. 240 (2011).
  • Budget Enforcement Act of 1990. Pub. L. No. 101‑508, Title XIII. 104 Stat. 1388–573 (1990).
  • Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974. Pub. L. No. 93‑344. 88 Stat. 297 (1974).
  • Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2005. Pub. L. No. 108‑447. 118 Stat. 2809 (2005).
  • Continuing Appropriations Act, 2014. Pub. L. No. 113‑46. 127 Stat. 558 (2013).
  • Federal Shutdown Response Emergency Act of 2013. D.C. Act No. 20‑182 (2013).
  • First Continuing Resolution for FY 1996. Pub. L. No. 104‑31. 109 Stat. 278 (1995).
  • Fourth Continuing Resolution for FY 1996. Pub. L. No. 104‑94. 110 Stat. 25 (1996).
  • Further Continuing Resolution for FY 1996. Pub. L. No. 104‑56. 109 Stat. 548 (1995).
  • General Appropriation Act, 1951. Sept. 6, 1950. 81st Cong., 2nd Sess., c. 896. 64 Stat. 595 (1950).
  • Gramm‑Rudman‑Hollings Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985. Pub. L. No. 99‑177, Title II. 99 Stat. 1038 (1985).
  • Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990. Pub. L. No. 101‑508. 104 Stat. 1388 (1990).
  • Pay Our Military Act. Pub. L. No. 113‑39. 127 Stat. 532 (2013). Cases Armster v. United States District Court, 792 F.2d 1423 (9th Cir. 1986)
  • Ex parte Garland, 71 U.S. (4 Wall.) 333, 18 L.Ed. 366 (1866)
  • Flemming v. Nestor, 363 U.S. 603, 80 S.Ct. 1367, 4 L.Ed.2d 1435 (1960)
  • Glavey v. United States, 182 U.S. 595, 21 S.Ct. 891, 45 L.Ed. 1247 (1901)
  • Glavey v. United States, 35 Ct. Cl. 242 (1900), rev’d on other grounds, 182 U.S. 595 (1901)
  • Immigration and Naturalization Service v. Chadha, 462 U.S. 919, 103 S.Ct. 2764, 77 L.Ed.2d 317 (1983)
  • MacMath v. United States, 248 U.S. 151, 39 S.Ct. 31, 63 L.Ed. 177 (1918)
  • Plaut v. Spendthrift Farm, Inc, 514 U.S. 211, 115 S.Ct. 1447, 131 L.Ed.2d 328 (1995)
  • Public Citizen v. Department of Justice, 491 U.S. 440, 109 S.Ct. 2558, 105 L.Ed.2d 377 (1989)
  • Saltzman v. United States, 161 Ct. Cl. 634 (1963)
  • Schick v. Reed, 419 U.S. 256, 95 S.Ct. 379, 42 L.Ed.2d 430 (1974)
  • United Automobile Workers v. Donovan, 746 F.2d 855 (D.C. Cir. 1984)
  • United States v. Grant, 237 F.2d 511 (7th Cir. 1956)
  • Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer, 343 U.S. 579, 72 S. Ct. 863, 96 L. Ed. 1153 (1952)
  • Administrative Decisions Bureau of Land Management – Reimbursement of Contract Disputes Act Payments, 63 Comp. Gen. 308, B‑211229 (GAO 1984)
  • Currency Exchange Rate Fluctuations, 58 Comp. Gen. 46, B‑133316 (GAO 1978)
  • Department of Education: Recording of Obligations under the Guaranteed Student Loan Program, 65 Comp. Gen. 4, B‑219161 (GAO 1983)
  • In re LTV Aerospace Corporation, 55 Comp. Gen. 307, B‑183851 (GAO 1975)
  • In re Newport News Shipbuilding Co., 55 Comp. Gen. 812, B‑184830 (GAO 1976)
  • Settlement and Certification of Judgment Claims, 1 Comp. Gen. 540 (GAO 1922)
  • Tax on Property of the Government, 9 Comp. Dec. 181 (Comp. Treas. 1902)
  • Voluntary Services – Deputy Collector of Internal Revenue, 27 Comp. Dec. 131 (Comp. Treas. 1920)
  • Voluntary Services, 9 Comp. Dec. 182 (Comp. Treas. 1902)
  • Bills and Resolutions Continuing Appropriations Act, 2014, H.R. 2775, 113th Cong., 1st (2013)
  • Continuing Resolution for FY 1996, H.J. Res. 115, 104th Cong., 1st (1995)
  • Continuing Resolution for FY 2014, H.J. Res. 59, 113th Cong., 1st (2013)
  • Federal Employee Retroactive Pay Fairness Act, H.R. 3223, 113th Cong., 1st (2013)
Document Type
Publication order reference
YADDA identifier
bwmeta1.element.desklight-cd8d6597-09f1-4216-98c6-f61a03c614ce
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