Congressional stalemate results in government shutdown: Debate over Obamacare leads to budgetary standstill
By Whitney Downs
It’s hard to turn on the news today without hearing something about the shutdown of the federal government. Yet, most people don’t even know what a government shutdown is. Every year, Congress must appropriate the budget for the executive branch to approve. However, if Congress fails to pass authorization for sufficient government funds, the federal government shuts down until a budget is agreed on for the upcoming fiscal year. State governments still remain intact, though.
This is the first government shutdown since 1995,when a standoff occurred between President Clinton and then-Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, over the United States budget deficit. This time, it is Speaker Boehner who has yet to put a continuing resolution on the floor and put an end to this problem. According to American Politics professor, Dr. Casey Dominguez, a continuing resolution would continue funding the government at last year’s levels, allowing the government to continue running while they worked out a budget.
This problem was avoidable as well, considering negotiations for this budget bill began in April. The main point of conflict being the House’s desire to defund the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare.” Multiple federal jobs, deemed nonessential, have been suspended also known as furloughed as a result. NASA, the FDA, the CDC and the EPA, among others, had a furlough rate of over 90 percent, which means that drug trials and food inspections have been shut down for the time being.
According to Political Science professor, Dr. Del Dickson, the blame falls on one group. “The conscious decision of one party — the Republicans — to shut down the government unless they get their way on a completely unrelated issue that everyone knows they aren’t going to get,” Dickson said.
Currently, Speaker of the House, John Boehner, is trying to appease the Tea Party, a minority faction within the Republican party, which is continually adding in language to that seeks to defund the ACA. Instead of progressing with the opinion of the majority, Boehner continually puts forth a bill that he knows won’t be approved by the Senate, before it even gets to the president.
Ted Cruz, a Tea Party senator from Texas, has also taken a definite stand in support of
the House’s decision. Yet, his position in the Senate means he hasn’t even gotten a chance to vote on the bill. Cruz has constantly been telling his fellow Republicans not to give up on defunding the ACA, which can’t be done anyways. He even went as far as to filibuster for 21 hours in order to delay a vote that would fund the government.
The Affordable Care Act has already been approved by Congress, upheld by the Supreme Court and, when Romney ran on an anti-Obamacare platform, the American people voted against him. Therefore, neither the Senate, nor the president will approve of a bill that seeks to defund the law.
Students aren’t very happy about the shutdown either. Freshman Martha Kauls said “I’m concerned about the national park service being shut down. The fact that people can’t go outside and enjoy the parks due to government standstill is ridiculous.” Akasha Vigo resonated this sentiment, “I’m mad because this affects my parents jobs, yet the government doesn’t seem to care.”
According to Political Science Chair, Dr. James Williams, a number of students will be affected by the shutdown. “The number of government workers furloughed could impact passports, immigration services, applications for internships and any business with the government,” Williams said.
Another problem is that not enough students seem to know about the shutdown. Nicole Peterson said that she “doesn’t pay much attention to stuff like that, so I don’t really know anything.” However, with increased coverage in mainstream media students may soon come to terms with the state of the nation.