Care about a government shutdown? Learn the lingo.

December 13th, 2018|Action of the Day|0 Comments

Yesterday, tempers flared in Washington as President Trump threatened a government shutdown over the $5B he has requested for the construction of a border wall versus the $1.3B currently proposed for fencing and security. Congress continues to work toward a spending bill deal, which must be approved by December 21st to avoid a shutdown. If a shutdown occurs, it will be the second this year.

You can gain a better understanding of the process by learning some of the economic and political buzzwords used in government to discuss the budget during times of negotiation.


Learn the lingo of Washington in preparation for Congress’ year-end budget debate.

Every year, Congress must approve a budget for the federal government to control the amount of money spent and which programs receive it. It is important to allocate funds carefully, so the government does not spend beyond its means. Legislators do not always agree on what should be included in the budget and how much should be spent, so this can lead to a lengthy debate. If the old budget lapses before a new one is approved, this may lead to a government shutdown.

  • Federal deficit—The federal government spends more than it collects in taxes and has to borrow money to make up the difference.
  • Federal debt—The total accumulation of annual federal deficits.
  • Trade deficit—When a country exports less than it imports.
  • Government shutdown—Congress’ authorization for spending lapses and there has not been a consensus on authorizing further spending, causing some government functions to shut down.
  • Partial government shutdown—If Congress has already authorized spending for the year for parts of the government, they are not subject to the government shutdown.
  • Debt Ceiling—The limit on the government’s authority to borrow money, set by Congress.

Learn more about each term and its current status in this NPR article.

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