A shutdown in the U.S. government happens when funding expires for the government and no new bills are passed. Government agencies are required to shut down if Congress doesn't approve new funding. In our most recent case, which occurred on January 18, 2018, the senate fell short of votes needed for a funding proposal after the original deadline wasn't met on December 21, 2017. What caused the deadline to not be met was an additional proposal for a solution of the recipients of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). The Democratic and Republican party, who have very opposing views of DACA, were not able to reach an agreement on the new bill. The official shutdown started January 19, 2018 and ended January 23, 2018.
What happens during a government shutdown?
When the government shuts down, many government agencies are forced into a shut down as well. This means that over 800,000 federal workers were furloughed. National parks were closed, and anyone who needed visas, permits, and passports were all stopped and forced to wait until the shutdown was over. Mail is one of the only exceptions, as it is still being received and sent. The military is a second exception, so military officials are still required to continue their jobs for this country.