The last time the government shut down, the year was 1995 and Toy Story just came out in theaters…the first one. Monday felt like New Years Eve, every single cable news network had a countdown timer till the government “shuts down.” It looked like a doomsday clock and once it struck 0, the government was going to evaporate into thin air, and we would be left without one. The clocks struck midnight and the House and Senate could not come to an agreement, and there was no budget proposal passed.
The reason the government is shut down is that every year the House and Senate are supposed to base 12 appropriations bills to fund federal agencies. But in recent years, Congress has found it difficult to pass such appropriations, so they have been relying on continuing resolutions to fund the government, and the last one ended on September 30th. Congress could just pass another continuing resolution to fund the government, but the Senate and House are fighting over what that resolution should look like. The House wants to delay Obamacare and get rid of the medical device tax for example, something the Senate version does not have.
So now that we know why the government is shutdown, here is what it means for citizens of the United States. The government splits the federal workforce into two categories, which are essential and non-essential (how good does that feel to know that you are “non-essential”). These non-essential workers are told not to show up to work and do not receive their paychecks or have them delayed. Examples of these non-essential programs are The National Park Service and the Environmental Protection Agency almost shuts down every aspect of their agency. There are around 800,000 federal workers facing furlough at the moment.
Thank goodness though that our military and national security agencies are still running the day to day operations, which I believe is essential to our country. I also believe that our military men and women deserve to be paid for their service and sacrifice they give to our country. Another example of essential workers is the air traffic controllers, and federal prison employees for example. Also Social Security and veteran benefit programs will continue to be funded and be sent out. But of course the people who caused the shutdown members of Congress are “essential” and getting paid while a lot of their hard working staffers may not be getting paid. While some members did a noble thing and voluntary declined payment until the shutdown is over, a lot of members have not done such a thing.
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