An illustrated guide to what happened during the US government shutdown

November 9, 2013
November 9, 2013

What exactly happened when the US government shut down for two weeks in October? The White House has issued an omnibus report of everything that went wrong. Here are our highlights:

Booze didn’t cruise.

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“Because the Treasury Department’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau was unable to issue export certificates for beer, wine, and distilled spirits, more than two million liters of US products were left sitting at ports unable to ship.”

Workers didn’t work.

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“During the 16-day shutdown, US federal government employees were furloughed for a combined total of 6.6 million days. We estimate that the total cost of pay for furloughed Federal employees during the period of the shutdown is roughly $2.0 billion. Total compensation costs, including benefits, are about 30 percent larger, in the range of $2.5 billion.”

Most notable was the fact that four of the five Nobel laureates working for the US government were sent home.

Planes weren’t delivered.

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“During the shutdown, aircraft registrations were put on hold due to furloughs of employees at the Office of Aircraft Registry. The General Aviation Manufacturers Association reports that the shutdown delayed delivery of 156 aircraft deliveries valued at $1.9 billion. The FAA is currently working to clear the backlog of delayed registrations.”

Nobody went to Yosemite.

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“The National Park Service estimates that it lost about $7 million in revenue as a result of the shutdown, while the Smithsonian lost an additional $4 million in revenue.”

Pigs might have eaten all kinds of crazy stuff.

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The shutdown “led the FDA to delay nearly 500 food and feed domestic inspections and roughly 355 food safety inspections under State contracts. These routine inspections enable [the] FDA to determine compliance with law and ensure that unsanitary conditions and practices that may result in foodborne illness are addressed.”

In other animal-related problems, Alaska’s crab fisherman couldn’t begin their season for four days without data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, costing them thousands of dollars per day. Plans to test new technology intended to prevent the spread of Asian Carp in the Great Lakes were put on hold for the winter after furloughed scientists missed their window for warm enough water.

Hazardous waste went uninspected.

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The shutdown “halted the EPA’s non-emergency inspections at about 1200 hazardous waste facilities, chemical facilities, and drinking water systems; discontinued evaluations of potential health impacts of new industrial chemicals; and stopped reviews of pesticides for adverse impacts to health and the environment. While the majority of these inspections will be rescheduled, they are unlikely to fully be made up during this fiscal year.”

The government also stopped processing some 200 applications for oil drilling on federal lands, slowing companies efforts to begin new exploration.

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