The Government Shutdown: What You Need to Know

On September 30th, the last day of the government’s fiscal year, Congress failed to agree on a budget. This forced the nation into the first government shutdown in almost twenty years. Because this isn’t something that happens often, people have been confused about the situation–allow us to explain.

Each year the government has to approve budgets by the end of September. Both the Senate and the House of Representatives must approve these spending limits together. Because they failed to reach an agreement by October 1st, the first day of the new fiscal year, the government was forced to shut down until both parties can collectively pass a budget.

The issue in question is providing funding for the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare.” It requires every American to have health insurance. This act, which was signed in 2010, is now up for funding. At this point, the Senate is primarily Democratic while the House of Representatives is primarily Republican. This separation has been causing conflict for a while over various situations in Congress. Most Republicans are opposed to the Affordable Care Act, which has led to the House rejecting multiple budget proposals passed by the Democratic Senate, in an attempt to delay proceedings. This political game of Tug-of-War has been the primary cause of the shutdown thus far.

On a personal basis, the effects of the shutdown vary in significance. The mail will still be delivered and Social Security checks will continue to come on time. However, permits, passports and federal loans will be delayed until the shutdown ends. All national parks including the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and most museums in Washington, D.C. will be closed until further notice.

About 800,000 federal employees whose jobs are deemed “non essential” will also be furloughed–placed on a temporary, unpaid leave. Essential workers, such as nurses, air traffic controllers, and anyone in the military will continue working, but with possible delays on their paychecks. The president and all members of Congress will continue to be paid because their wages are considered mandatory spending according to the government. Overall, this shutdown will impact people across America both economically and socially.

Government shutdowns have happened before, with the longest one lasting for twenty-one days. Regardless, this is not something to take lightly. With everything at a standstill, there is no room to move forward in important government operations. This will affect millions of people across the nation, as well as the economy across the globe.

By: Jennifer Gagliardi



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