US Gov’t Shutdown: 800,000 Furloughed Workers, Museums Closed, Obamacare Health Exchanges Go Into Effect Today
With no deal in sight, the U.S. federal government will undergo a partial government shutdown until political leaders can reach an agreement to fund the government. On Tuesday morning, all non-essential government employees will be ordered to leave work until further notice. This is the first time the government is shutting down in 17 years.
The Republican-led House of Representatives has passed three continuing resolutions to temporarily fund the government. The Democratic-led Senate has countered with three of its own continuing resolutions. Yet the two sides have failed to reach an agreement. President Barack Obama, meanwhile, says that he will not offer any concessions to Republicans to finalize a deal.
As of Tuesday, some 800,000 federal workers who are considered non-essential will be furloughed.
The Republican’s first offer would have defunded the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare.” Their second offer was to delay implementation of the ACA for one year. Their third offer, passed Monday afternoon and quickly rejected by the Senate, would have delayed the individual mandate to purchase health insurance for one year, repealed the medical device tax, and revoked the premium supports for congressional staffers (Republicans say this is repealing an exemption from the law for Congress, but this is a myth.)
Each Republican bill got consecutively more Democratic votes in the House, from two to nine, and fewer Republican votes.
In a Monday interview on NPR, Obama said he will not make any counteroffers to Republicans.
“I shouldn’t have to offer anything,” he said. “They’re not doing me a favor by paying for things that they have already approved for the government to do. That’s part of their basic function of government; that’s not doing me a favor. That’s doing what the American people sent them here to do, carrying out their responsibilities.”
Even though Republicans passed three funding bills, each consecutively more in the direction of the president’s position, and Obama refuses to compromise with them, he complained that Republicans will only negotiate if they can get 100 percent of what they want.
“I have said consistently that I’m always happy to talk to Republicans and Democrats about how we shape a budget that is investing in things like early childhood education, rebuilding our roads and bridges and putting people back to work, growing our economy, making sure that we have the research and development to stay at the cutting edge and that deals with some of our long-term debt issues. But we’re not going to accomplish those things if one party to this conversation says that the only way that they come to the table is if they get 100 percent of what they want and if they don’t, they threaten to burn down the house,” he said.
The House and Senate did pass a bill that would make sure that active duty military would continue to be paid in the event of a government shutdown. Obama said he would sign that bill.
All essential government personnel will remain at work. This means that all federal law enforcement, federal courts, border patrol, air traffic control and the U.S. Postal Service will not be effected. Also, those that receive Social Security, SNAP, or “food stamps,” Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment insurance and school lunches will continue to receive their benefits. The ACA’s health care exchanges will also go into effect, as planned, on Tuesday.
All national parks and museums will be closed. Other federal agencies will reduce many of its functions but maintain others. The IRS, for instance, will continue to collect taxes, but any audits will be suspended until the shutdown is over.
This will be the 18th government shutdown since 1976.