Estimate shows 17 percent of government is actually shut down

The so-called government shutdown which started last week affects just 17 percent of the entire federal government, according to a recent spending calculation.

The numbers are based on information requested from the Senate Budget Committee, as well as data from the Obama administration and the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. A Senate Republican source verified the calculation to, after it was first reported by The Washington Examiner.

The calculation that 83 percent of the government is still running shows how some parts of the government -- unless the country loses its ability to borrow -- simply cannot be shut down, even if Congress is unable to agree on a spending bill as happened last week.

The bulk of the federal budget goes toward what is known as "mandatory" programs -- entitlements like Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare. These payments cannot be interrupted in the case of a partial government shutdown.

The government really only has about 35 percent of the federal budget to play with, and most of that is defense spending.

The calculation from Senate Republicans starts with the assumption the government will pay appropriations obligated before the shutdown of $512 billion, and will spend $225 billion on exempted military and civilian personnel, spread out over the year. It also assumes Washington will pay out entitlement benefits of roughly $2 trillion this year, and pay debt interest of $237 billion. This equals about 83 percent of projected 2014 spending of $3.6 trillion.

However, the cutbacks -- which include some government services put on hold and hundreds of thousands of federal employees being furloughed -- have still been felt, perhaps most notably in the closure of national parks and monuments.

The slimdown entered its seventh day Monday, with Congress returning to Capitol Hill.

The Senate could vote as early as Monday afternoon on a House measure, passed 407-0 this weekend, to pay the furloughed workers once the budget dispute is resolved.