Senator Murray Details Harms of a Needless & Costly Shutdown as She Pushes to Get Final Funding Bills Across Finish Line


SHUTDOWNS COST TAXPAYERS: 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 associated with the shutdowns, including extra administrative work, lost revenue, and late fees on interest payments.


SHUTDOWNS STUNT ECONOMIC GROWTH: The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that the five-week partial government shutdown in 2018-2019 reduced economic output by $11 billion over two quarters—including $3 billion that the U.S. economy never regained.


SHUTDOWNS HURT WORKERS ACROSS AMERICA: 85 percent of the 2.19 million civilian full-time federal employees in the United States work outside the Washington, D.C. metro area.


Washington, D.C. — Today—as she continues working nonstop with her counterparts in both chambers to negotiate FY24 funding bills—U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, reiterated her hope that Congress can finalize and pass funding bills to avert a partial government shutdown come Saturday morning—and she released more details about what a needless shutdown would mean for people across the country.


“There’s no reason whatsoever for a shutdown—we can pass our bills if House Republicans leave extreme, far-right policy demands aside,” said Senator Murray. “A shutdown come Saturday would create real issues in the daily lives of the American people: risking air travel delays and passengers’ safety, putting off food safety inspections, denying many Americans the home loans they are counting on, leaving America’s farmers behind, and so much more. A Republican shutdown would be nothing short of a disaster. It costs the American taxpayer dearly and stunts the economy all while severely disrupting the basic functions of government across agencies like the FAA and FDA.”


“Just the fact that agencies have to plan for a potential shutdown is pulling countless civil servants away from the work the American people are counting on them for. The constant expectation of chaos and unpredictability comes with a steep opportunity cost,” continued Senator Murray. “We can avoid a senseless and costly shutdown if far-right policy demands are pushed aside and bipartisanship prevails.”


Government funding for agencies and programs funded by the following four appropriations bills runs through Friday, March 1:

  • Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies;
  • Energy and Water Development;
  • Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies; and
  • Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies.


Shutdowns cost taxpayers. A bipartisan report from the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which included data from 26 federal agencies, documented the costs to the American taxpayer of the last three government shutdowns:

  • Federal workers were furloughed and unable to work for 54 days during the last three shutdowns. 
  • The last three 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 associated with the shutdowns, including extra administrative work, lost revenue, and late fees on interest payments.
  • The combined total of furlough days during all three shutdowns was about 14,859,144— representing an estimated 56,938 years of lost productivity for those agency employees.
  • These figures, however, do not even include data from some of the largest government agencies, which were unable to provide complete shutdown cost estimates to the Subcommittee—including the Departments of Defense, Agriculture, Justice, and Commerce, and the Environmental Protection Agency.


Shutting down the government also affects the national economy. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) determined the most recent partial shutdown from 2018 into 2019 “delayed approximately $18 billion in federal discretionary spending for compensation and purchases of goods and services and suspended some federal services.” As a result of this reduced spending, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the shutdown reduced real GDP by $11 billion—including $3 billion that the U.S. economy never regained.


Shutdowns hurt public servants in every part of the country. 85 percent of the 2.19 million full-time civilian federal employees in the United States work outside the Washington, D.C. metro area. A government shutdown would force tens of thousands of these public servants to work without pay, furlough tens of thousands more, and keep them from critical work—all while harming local economies across the country as families delay purchases, bill payments, and more.


Across agencies, a shutdown would have serious implications for the country:



  • Jeopardize the safety of America’s food supply by causing delays in FDA food safety inspections.
  • Slam the door shut on our nation’s farmers and rural communities just as they begin planning for spring planting—as Farm Service Agency and Rural Development offices are forced to close, farmers are unable to apply for loans and seek assistance, and farm income support programs are put on pause.
  • Deny new home loans for Americans in rural areas as the Department of Agriculture stops processing new loans.
  • Halt critical economic data farmers and markets rely on as agricultural, economic, and commodity research, staff analysis and statistical reports, and projections are put on pause.
  • Endanger animal welfare as day-to-day operations inspecting pet dealers and stores, zoos, animal research facilities, and other locations where mistreatment is possible or alleged are paused.


Energy and Water Development

  • Risk operations at our nation’s national labs—and potentially halt some programs altogether—in the event of a protracted shutdown.
  • Delay the National Nuclear Security Administration’s weapons, production, and infrastructure modernization activities in the event of a protracted shutdown—threatening the United States’ nuclear deterrence as vital activities are delayed.
  • Derail the work of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in the event of a long-term shutdown, resulting in reduced or stopped work on nuclear license renewals, decommissioning of nuclear plants, inspections, rulemaking, and guidance development, development of infrastructure for advanced nuclear reactor technologies, development of advanced medical technologies and new fuel, international assistance and cooperation activities, and other routine operations.


Military Construction-Veterans Affairs

  • Shutter VA regional benefits offices and stop career counseling and transition assistance programs for veterans.
  • Force a potential closure of American military cemeteries operated by the American Battle Monuments Commission and pause grounds maintenance at VA cemeteries nationwide.



  • Cause travel delays and risk air travelers’ safety by forcing air traffic controllers and other essential personnel to work without pay, which has historically led to staffing challenges that disrupt air travel.
  • Freeze hiring and training of new air traffic controllers by shutting down the Oklahoma-based training academy.
  • Halt progress modernizing the FAA’s aging air traffic control system, which would force old systems and equipment to remain in use longer and require the extension of contracts to complete modernization efforts as timelines get pushed back.
  • Delay access to affordable housing by slowing the selection of new low-income tenants on Section 8 and public housing waitlists nationwide—many of whom are currently living on the streets or are in temporary shelters.
  • Force prospective homebuyers to delay their plans by delaying the processing and approval of Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans.
  • Put the most vulnerable families’ housing at risk by forcing potential delays in routine capital maintenance and emergency repairs for the 5 million low-income households that live in public housing and subsidized housing.
  • Increase the risk of transporting hazardous materials by forcing the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to stop hazardous materials permits and investigations, and halting emergency response planning and training to mitigate the impact of future incidents.