President Donald Trump, and Republican officials scurried to put together a short-term bill Tuesday that would prevent a possible government shut-down, which would see funding cease at midnight Friday. Despite clearing the House, the bill failed to get through the Senate, shutting the government down.
It faced stiff resistance from Democrats as it failed to address the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which could see up to 700,000 undocumented immigrants deported while the Trump administration accused the Democrats for holding the government hostage. No deal has been reached as of Monday morning.
18 Shutdowns Since 1976
Normally, talk of shutdowns only surfaces during contentious periods of divided government, when the presidency and at least one house of Congress are in the hands of different parties. So the failure of today's Republican-controlled White House, the Senate and the House to reach a deal would be striking.
Democrat Jimmy Carter (1977-1981) is the only president who had a shutdown occur while his own party controlled both the House and the Senate, and it happened five times during his single term in office, according to the Washington Post.
How a Shutdown Affects Americans
So, you might ask: how would a shutdown affect me as an investor?
Equity investors probably can take a shutdown in stride. During the previous 18 shutdowns from 1976 through 2013, the S&P 500 actually posted gains 8 times, according to analysis by MarketWatch. In fact, the S&P 500 was up 3.1% during the last shutdown, which persisted for 16 days in 2013. This was the largest gain during any shutdown. Friday's potential shutdown comes on the back of more record stock prices that saw the Dow Jones Industrial Average top 26,000 for the first time.
But if you're not an investor, a shutdown could have a wide-ranging impact and disrupt many of your plans and activities, according to a recent article in USA Today, which responded to common questions about a shutdown, as we summarize below. While you'll still get mail and your Social Security check on time, the chances of getting a quick tax refund or new passport are up in the air.
Here's a look:
1/ Will I get mail? Yes. The Postal Service does not use tax dollars to fund its operations but instead raises money through services and sales of stamps.
2/ Will I get my tax refund? You may see a delay. But that doesn't get you off the hook from paying taxes that the IRS will continue to collect.
3/ Can I ride Amtrak or fly? Amtrak, which gets much of its money from non-federal sources, probably won't be disrupted. But airports may have delays. Air traffic controllers will stay on the job, but some non-essential government employees could be furloughed.
4/ Can I get a passport for summer vacation? It may be wise to get your passport as soon as possible because the State Department gets part of its funding from Congress.
5/ Will Congressional offices be open if I want to complain about the shutdown? During past shutdowns, lawmakers were advised that they did not have to furlough key staff members, including those needed to communicate with constituents. It's up to each representative.
6/ Will I get Social Security or food stamps? Yes. Both are mandatory programs that are not dependent on yearly spending bills.
7/ Will major national monuments be open? You may need to reschedule your visit because the Statue of Liberty, Smithsonian and other sites will be closed.
A Formula for More Shutdowns: The Deficit
With the federal government routinely running huge annual budget deficits, and the national debt in astronomic figures, crafting a spending plan that both satisfies key constituencies and is reasonably responsible in the aggregate is getting more difficult over time, according to Investopedia research.
With a lack of bipartisanship in Washington D.C. the current standoff may not be the last of 2018.