NATION—Going on 18 days as of publication Tuesday afternoon, the current partial shutdown of the federal government is tied for the second longest in U.S. history.
Published reports state since 1976, when Congress began using its current budgeting process, there have been 21 government shutdowns, most lasting a few hours or days at most.
The last 18-day shutdown occurred in 1978 under President Jimmy Carter, caused by disagreements on public works legislation and defense spending.
It was surpassed only by the 1995-96 shutdown under President Bill Clinton, which lasted 21 days due to disputes over domestic spending cuts.
Should the current shutdown last into next week, it will be the longest the United States has ever seen.
As of Tuesday's publication, effects of the shutdown on county operations were yet unseen.
“We wouldn't know of any critical situations at this time,” explained Wayne County Commissioner Chairman Brian Smith.
Smith noted most of the county's federal allocations roll over between June and July, and shouldn't be affected until then.
Wayne County Human Services Administrator Andrea Whyte noted the only effect seen from the shutdown so far was a letter from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) informing her they were one of the affected departments.
With no cause for alarm at the moment, Whyte said Wayne County Human Services is continuing to submit invoices and other paperwork as usual.
While much of the federal government was budgeted before the shutdown, nine out of 15 departments remain closed as of publication.
Veterans' benefits and postal services are still operational, having received funding into 2019, but agencies like the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) have throttled staff and are unable to pay their workers.
Many recreational institutions such as museums, national parks and the National Zoo are closed.
The Associated Press (AP) reports that some national parks have been able to stay minimally operational due to generous private donations and repurposing entrance fees to cover maintenance and security.
According to a National Parks Service release from Sunday, January 6, “The NPS currently has funds derived from entrance, camping, parking and other fees collected from park visitors that would typically be used for future projects at parks. After consultation with the Office of the Solicitor at the Department of the Interior, it has been determined that these funds can and should be used to provide immediate assistance and services to highly visited parks during the lapse in appropriations.”
On Monday, the IRS announced tax season is expected to begin, shutdown or not, on January 28.
“The IRS will be recalling a significant portion of its workforce, currently furloughed as part of the government shutdown, to work,” stated the agency via press release on Monday.
“We are committed to ensuring that taxpayers receive their refunds notwithstanding the government shutdown,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig in a release. “I appreciate the hard work of the employees and their commitment to the taxpayers during this period.”
Submission deadline is set for April 15. The IRS encourages taxpayers to file electronically “...to minimize errors and for faster refunds.”
The AP reports that TSA workers, deemed essential staff, have been told to continue reporting for work despite the potential for pay lapses to begin if the shutdown persists.
Published reports note there are 420,000 federal employees expected to work without pay during the shutdown in agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigations; Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; the Drug Enforcement Agency; and Customs and Border Protection.
Staff in the State Department, Coast Guard and the Department of Homeland Security are also expected to work through the dry spell.
Additionally, 380,000 federal employees will be furloughed – asked to stay home without pay.
—Information from press releases was used in this story.
—Information from the Associated Press was used in this story.
—Information from published reports was used in this story.