The cost of a government shutdown? According to a report by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, the last three cost the U.S. government $4 billion.
During a shutdown, federal employees still get paid, other costs continue … but no work gets done.
That’s “money down the toilet,” in the words of Mark Goldwein, senior vice president at the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.
The subcommittee surveyed 26 federal agencies and recorded at least $3.7 billion in back pay to furloughed workers during the last three shutdowns (2019, 2018, and 2013), and another $338 million in associated costs.
Some work is made up, according to Matthew Shapiro, director of the University of Michigan’s Survey Research Center, who says the estimate still “understates the cost of the shutdown, because of all the indirect effects.”
Effects like restaurants losing business, purchases that were never made and contractors who were never reimbursed. Taking indirect effects into account, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the last shutdown — the longest in U.S. history, at 35 days — cost roughly $3 billion alone.
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