Senate report: Last 3 federal shutdowns cost taxpayers $4B

Activists oppose the federal government shutdown on January 10 in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. The work stoppage ultimately lasted for 35 days. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI

Sept. 17 (UPI) — The last three federal shutdowns — which resulted from the government failing to authorize new spending — cost American taxpayers a total of $4 billion, a bipartisan analysis showed Tuesday.

The Senate subcommittee on investigations issued the 180-page report after investigators examined federal stoppages in 2013, 2018 and 2019 — two under President Donald Trump’s administration and one under former President Barack Obama.

The 2013 shutdown lasted for nearly two weeks; the second occurred in January 2018 and spanned three days and the third began late last year and ended in January, for a total of 35 days — the longest in U.S. history. Obama’s was a stalemate over the Affordable Care Act and both of Trump’s related to immigration reforms.

As a result, numerous workers were furloughed and some were required to work without pay.

“The last three government shutdowns cost taxpayers nearly $4 billion — at least $3.7 billion in back pay to furloughed federal workers, and at least $338 million in other costs … including extra administrative work, lost revenue, and late fees on interest payments,” the report found.

“This report reaffirms what I’ve always said; federal government shutdowns don’t save money, they actually cost taxpayers billions of dollars,” said Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, chair of the Senate subcommittee on investigations.

The report surveyed 26 federal agencies, which did not include the departments of defense, agriculture, justice and commerce or the Environmental Protection Agency.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated in January the 35-day shutdown cost the U.S. economy $11 billion.

The next federal shutdown could come as soon as next month. The House and Senate are reviewing several pieces of legislation to avert another stoppage, which would occur if a new spending bill isn’t authorized by Nov. 1.

Delaware Sen. Tom Carper said he hopes Tuesday’s analysis reminds lawmakers and politicians about the “real consequences and costs to taxpayers when we do not do our jobs.”


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