Warner asks GAO to study cost of government shutdown

Greg Nash

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) asked the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to study the economic cost of the more than two-week government shutdown.

Republicans shut down the government on Oct. 1 in an effort to defund ObamaCare, but they caved after more than two weeks to avert a government default. A bipartisan short-term deal passed last week that ended the shutdown, funds the government through Jan. 15 and raises the debt ceiling until Feb. 7.

“Abruptly closing and opening the world’s largest enterprise was completely irresponsible, and there are some indications it caused unnecessary hardship across our economy,” Warner wrote in a letter sent to the GAO Thursday.

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Warner asked GAO to investigate economic effects the shutdown had on the overall U.S. economy, the federal workforce, federal agency operations and services, state and local governments, federal contractors and other private-sector businesses, as well as lost tax and fee revenues.

“There is little information or data available to Congress about the true cost of shutting the federal government for any length of time,” Warner wrote. “The best way to prevent another unnecessary shutdown is to better understand how this irresponsible action fully impacted our economy.”

If lawmakers don’t reach an agreement to fund the government by Jan. 15 it will shut down again. Budget Committee conferees have until Dec. 13 to report a plan to both chambers in an effort to avert that situation.

The last government shutdown was nearly 20 years ago and cost the U.S. economy more than $1.4 billion.