Early Tuesday morning, October 1, the federal government shut down. Some 800,000 government workers were told to stay home and 1 million more were asked to work without pay. Non-essential functions were halted. Essential services like air traffic control, law enforcement, and essential health care functions continue. For more about what is and is not shut down, and the impacts, see here and here. Programs with funding that does not need annual approval – like Social Security, Medicare, and others – are unaffected. (Learn more about government spending)
This shutdown did not have to happen. Members of the House of Representatives have acknowledged that the Senate’s stopgap proposal – which would have continued the current federal budget for another six weeks while the 2014 budget was finalized – would likely have been approved if the House had been allowed to vote on it. Democrats and moderate Republicans would have provided enough bipartisan support for the measure to pass and the shutdown would have been avoided. But House leadership barred a vote on the Senate proposal, bowing to pressure from a small group of House members who were determined to use the budget bill to repeal or delay Obamacare. The House has already voted over 40 times to repeal or defund Obamacare but to no effect since the Senate has voted this down each time.
This is irresponsible. Millions will be affected and the damage will increase the longer the shutdown lasts. Congress must end this stalemate, approve a temporary budget measure, and soon adopt a budget for 2014. Moreover, the federal budget must not be held hostage to an increase in the debt ceiling which needs to happen by about October 17, 2013.