On October 7 this year the United States government shut down. According to Government Executive, a political news publication, about 43 percent of federal employees have been furloughed (placed on unpaid leave) until the government resumes functionality.
The shutdown was caused when the House of Representatives and the Senate both refused to pass budgets proposed by the other. Without a budget government agencies cannot be funded, therefore many workers were sent home and many federal agencies are temporarily closed. Why was congress unable to pass a budget? Partisan politics.
The affordable health care act or ‘obamacare’ went into effect on October 8, the day after the government shutdown. The republican controlled House refused to pass a budget from the Senate unless it defunded obamacare. The democrat controlled Senate refused to pass any budget proposed by the House unless it allowed funding for obamacare. Essentially, the republican-democrat debate over government-subsidized healthcare caused the government shutdown.
John Boehner, speaker of the House of Representatives, has been meeting with President Obama and Harry Reid, the senate majority leader, over the past two weeks. Despite continued negotiations no agreement has been reached in order to create a budget that both parties can support.
How does the government shutdown affect the typical American? As long as you’re not a federal employee the only change you may have noticed is that you can’t visit state parks. While things are calm now, the United States is quickly approaching its debt limit. On October 17 the country will reach its debt limit and will be unable to pay other countries that we owe loan payments to. This would be the first time in history the United States has defaulted on debt payments. The consequences could be dire or minimal. If agreement is not reached by the legislature by that time we’ll see the effects first hand.