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Policy: Budgets & Deficits

1990s government shutdown cost $2b+, nearly $80 million a day

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Labor,PennAve,Tim Mak,Budgets and Deficits,Government Shutdown

Shuttering the government has costs of its own: A pair of government shutdowns in 1995 and 1996 cost the federal government more than $2 billion in today's dollars, or nearly $80 million a day.

A 1996 congressional report estimated that it cost $1.4 billion to shut down the government for 27 days. Tensions between the Republican-led House and the Democratic White House led to additional shutdowns from Nov. 14 to Nov. 19, 1995, and between Dec. 16, 1995 and Jan. 5, 1996.

Adjusting for inflation using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' calculator, 27 days of government shutdown cost approximately $2.09 billion in 2013 dollars, or an average of $77.4 million per day. While the government typically isn't paying most workers during a shutdown, it still incurs the costs of notifying personnel, preparing for contingencies and the process of shutting down and restarting programs.

The congressional report said the government's shutdowns in the 1990s prevented veterans from receiving GI Bill benefits, halted passport applications and created a backlog, prevented seven million National Park visits, delayed assistance payments to Native Americans, and slowed the launch of a NOAA satellite, among other impacts.

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