The government shutdown was caused by the inability of the House and Senate to agree on a bill to fund the government.
The federal government needs to be funded in order to operate. There are 12 appropriations bills that the House and the Senate are supposed to agree on every year to set spending priorities. In recent years, they have resorted to continuing resolutions, which keep the government funded. The last continuing resolution ended on Sept. 30 and because Congress did not reach an agreement, the government has shut down.
The shut down does not mean that everyone and every organization funded by the federal government will completely shut down, but many will. Federal workers are separated into “essential” and “non-essential” workers. The “essential” workers will continue working during the shutdown, while the “non-essential” workers will be sent home.
All functions of government related to national security, public safety, and anything written into permanent law will stay open during the shut down. However, there are many other government agencies that will be shut down during this time. It is estimated that 800,000 government workers will not work during the shutdown. Many industries are expected to see economic decline based on what happened during the 1995 and 1996 shutdowns.
This shut down will end when Congress passes a bill that funds the government and the White House has to sign them. It is not known how long this shut down will last.