I was wondering how long is it possible for a shutdown to go on, months, years? Can it be forced to stop?

  • Who might "force" a shutdown to stop? How would such an entity accomplish this?
    – Andrew
    Commented Jan 14, 2019 at 15:56
  • If you would believe the president's claim that he is sitting in his office waiting for the Senators to return before the shutdown can be ended, he has no power to end it, or keep it shut down.
    – Zibbobz
    Commented Jan 14, 2019 at 15:59

1 Answer 1


If he gets a spending bill and refuses to sign it, he can hold it up for a long time as long as congress is in session.. This is commonly known as a pocket veto, known as such because he can "keep the bill in his pocket" until Congress adjourns.

If he vetoes the bill, then he can be overridden by two-thirds of congress.

This is assuming that the funding bill even gets to his desk. In the current shutdown, the Senate is refusing to even vote for the the funding bills that have been approved by the House.

  • 1
    "as long as he wants to": no. From the above Wikipedia link: "A pocket veto occurs when a bill fails to become law because the president does not sign the bill and cannot return the bill to Congress within a 10-day period because Congress is not in session." If Congress is in session, the bill becomes law if the President neither signs nor vetoes it within 10 days - and recent practice ensures that Congress is never adjourned for long enough for a pocket veto to take effect. Commented Jan 14, 2019 at 16:58
  • @SteveMelnikoff Thanks. I forgot about that part. I will modify my answer.
    – Karlomanio
    Commented Jan 14, 2019 at 17:23
  • 1
    @Karlomanio I think you've still got it backwards. A pocket veto can occur as long as Congress is not in session.
    – owjburnham
    Commented Jan 14, 2019 at 17:39
  • @owjburnham No I don't think so. Indefinitely would incorrect because "within a 10-day period because Congress is not in session." That means the president can keep the shutdown going as long as Congress IS in session. Once 10 days has passed and the congress is NOT in session, the bill becomes law. Does that make more sense? Or am I missing something else. Thanks for the input!
    – Karlomanio
    Commented Jan 14, 2019 at 17:47
  • 1
    @Karlomanio: owjburnham is right. The pocket veto is only possible if Congress is NOT in session because under those circumstances, Congress cannot respond in time to the President's inaction. If they are in session, they can respond, so the pocket veto becomes impossible. Commented Jan 15, 2019 at 9:26

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .