Who is to Blame for the Government Shutdown?
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Who is to blame for the government shutdown? Did several groups of people contribute to it? What should happen now?
“Of all the responsibilities the Constitution endows to Congress, two should be fairly simple: to pass the Budget and to pay America’s bills.”
President Obama spelt out these duties of Congress just hours before the government officially shut down at midnight on Monday when the fiscal year ended. The shut down will continue until the President signs a spending bill.
Under the Constitution, Congress must pass laws to spend money and if Congress is unable to agree on a spending bill, the government does not have the legal authority to spend. Congress can pass a continuing resolution (CR), a temporary measure that authorizes government funding, and a continuing resolution has been funding the government since March 28 until it expired on September 30. But if the President and Congress can’t agree on the spending plan, government shuts down.
Republicans and Democrats in Congress are in a stalemate. The Republican-controlled House has passed a spending bill that maintains spending levels, but does not fund the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare. This is the sticking point for them. Republicans are adamant that the health plan is bad for America and the Democratic Senate insists that the healthcare program be fully funded.
So roughly 800,000 federal workers will not be paid or furloughed because of the shutdown. As “non-essential” federal employees they can work no more than four hours on shutdown-related activities before being furloughed. Federally funded tourist spots close; that is museums and monuments in Washington, national parks and the National Zoo. Services such as the Environmental Protection Agency, NASA, and the Internal Revenue Service shut down, and Americans who rely on unemployment and other loans or benefits would see their payments delayed since the Treasury Department can only pay bills it can afford from daily tax revenue.
However “essential” workers continue to work and be paid; those “deemed to perform emergency work involving saving lives or protecting property, including military service, law enforcement, or direct provision of medical care,” as explained in a PBS NewsHour Extra piece about what you need to know.
This includes Congress, and the President who will be paid during this period. In California voters approved Proposition 25 in 2010 which means that if state legislators fail to pass a balanced budget on time, they don’t get paid. Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer has repeatedly proposed Congress be subject to the same rules and their pay docked if they don’t do their job.
PBS NewsHour video Government Shuts Down, Affecting Millions – Sept. 30, 2013
With just hours left before a government shutdown, House Republicans passed another stopgap funding bill that included provisions to scale back the Affordable Care Act, despite the Senate and the president’s refusal to support such a plan. Gwen Ifill reports on the day’s back and forth leading up to the budget deadline.
To respond to the Do Now, you can comment below or tweet your response. Be sure to begin your tweet with @KQEDedspace and end it with #DoNowShutdown
For more info on how to use Twitter, click here.
We encourage students to reply to other people’s tweets to foster more of a conversation. Also, if students tweet their personal opinions, ask them to support their ideas with links to interesting/credible articles online (adding a nice research component) or retweet other people’s ideas that they agree/disagree/find amusing. We also value student-produced media linked to their tweets like memes or more extensive blog posts to represent their ideas. Of course, do as you can… and any contribution is most welcomed.
KQED’s The Lowdown post Closed for Business: 7 Great Resources Explaining the Government Shutdown – Oct. 2, 2013
Remember when you were a kid fighting with your siblings at the dinner table and your mom warned that if you couldn’t get along then no one got dessert? That, in a nutshell, is essentially what’s going on with the federal government shutdown — the first in 17 years — that began October 1.
PBS NewsHour Extra article Need-to-Know: Government Shutdown! – Sept. 30, 2013
Political negotiations over the government’s budget in Washington, D.C., are at a standstill, with Republicans in Congress threatening to shut down the government unless President Barack Obama agrees to defund the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as “Obamacare”. But what exactly is a government shutdown and how does it happen? Here’s your need-to-know guide.
New York Times post Government Shuts Down in Budget Impasse – Sept. 30, 2013
Includes a video of Obama addressing the nation along with an interactive timeline entitled The Back and Forth Over the Shutdown.
A flurry of last-minute moves by the House, Senate and White House late Monday failed to break a bitter budget standoff over President Obama’s health care law, setting in motion the first government shutdown in nearly two decades.