I don't understand why the shutdown only affects a portion of the government. Where does the rest get its funding and why isn't it bound by the same dependency on congressional approval?
Not all departments are affected by the shutdown since Congress has already passed appropriations for some departments. These include:
- Department of Energy (funded by H.R.5895)
- Department of Veterans Affairs (funded by H.R.5895)
- Department of Defense (funded by H.R.6157)
- Department of Labor (funded by H.R.6157)
- Department of Health and Human Services (funded by H.R.6157)
- Department of Education (funded by H.R.6157)
Only the departments without appropriations are shut down, which include:
- Department of the Treasury
- Department of Agriculture
- Department of Homeland Security
- Department of the Interior
- Department of State
- Department of Housing and Urban Development
- Department of Transportation
- Department of Commerce
- Department of Justice
The largest departments are the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, both of which are funded.
On August 23, 2018, the U.S. Senate approved an $850 billion spending bill for Fiscal Year 2019. It kept the government running at current levels through December 7, 2018. That gave Congress time to debate other aspects of the spending bill until after the mid-term elections.
On September 18, Congress passed a short-term spending bill that funded the departments of Defense, Labor, Education, and Health and Human Services.
A government shutdown generally only includes non-essential federal programs when Congress fails to appropriate funds. In the normal budget process, Congress appropriates funds by September 30 for the following fiscal year. When that doesn't happen, then Congress enacts a continuing funding resolution. If Congress can't agree on one, it forces a shutdown.
As a side note continuing resolutions are not permitted per the Constitution. I am currently researching how they get away with that year after year.