definition of Wikipedia
In U.S. politics, a government shutdown is a situation in which the government stops providing all but "essential" services. Typically, services that continue despite a shutdown include police, fire fighting, postal service, armed forces, utilities, air traffic management, and corrections (the penal system).
A shutdown can happen when a legislative body (including the legislative power of veto by the executive) cannot agree on a budget financing its government programs for a pending fiscal year. In the absence of appropriated funds, the government discontinues providing non-essential services at the beginning of the affected fiscal year. Government employees who provide essential services, often referred to as "essential employees," are required to continue working.
Specifically, in the case of the United States federal government, the Antideficiency Act, together with legal opinions, particularly one written by Attorney General Benjamin Civiletti in 1981, define what is and is not allowed in the absence of an appropriation.
The exact details of which government functions would stop during a shutdown is determined by the Office of Management and Budget. However, some specific aspects have applied to all shutdowns in the past. Among these is the closure of national parks and passport offices. "Emergency personnel" continue to be employed, including the military, border agents, doctors and nurses working in federal hospitals, and air traffic controllers. Members of Congress continue to be paid, because their pay cannot be altered except by direct law. Mail delivery is not affected as it is self-funded.
Shutdowns in the past have also affected the Washington, D.C. municipal government, putting a stop to utilities such as garbage collection, this can include schools, though shutdowns evidently occur during the weekend.
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