Tuesday, October 1, 2013

U.S. Government Shuts Down For the First Time in 17 Years Due to Fight Over ObamaCare


How was your night last night?  While you were (hopefully) sleeping, you may not have noticed that two historic events took place at the stroke of midnight last night:

1. The United States, for the first time ever, joined other industrialized nations in providing its people with access to health care exchanges through ObamaCare; and
2. The House Republicans, unhappy with historic event number 1 above, created their own historic event by shutting down the United States government for the first time since '96.

How did this happen, you ask?  Every so often the federal government has to adopt a budget called a "continuing resolution."  This is normally a routine measure that passes without any hoopla or fanfare. But not this time.  After losing the argument about ObamaCare's constitutionality in the Supreme Court and after unsuccessfully voting to repeal ObamaCare over 40 times in the House of Representatives, House Republicans saw an opportunity to defund ObamaCare in last night's continuing resolution.  Even though the members of Congress continue to collect a paycheck after the government shut down, the Republican Party is now coming to terms with the political fallout of being the party that is clearly responsible for shutting down the entire U.S. government on GP. And do you know what the worst part about this government shut down is?  It still didn't defund ObamaCare!  That's right.  You heard that correctly; House Republicans specifically shut down the government to defund ObamaCare, and still failed to defund ObamaCare.

And this is just the appetizer folks.  Just wait until we have the fight over the debt ceiling on October 17th.

But for now, our government is officially shut down.  So what does this mean for you?


Per CNN:

10. How will it happen?

There won't be a thunderclap or clang of bells. First order of business? Draw up a dividing line between workers deemed essential or non-essential. Those in the first category will carry on operations. The others will power down until Congress comes to its senses and funds the government.

So, for example, park rangers would start locking up national parks. And most furloughed federal workers are supposed to be out of their offices within four hours of the start of business Tuesday.

11. How many government workers could be furloughed?

Most of the 3.3 million government workers are deemed "essential" -- they'll keep working. But more than 783,000 government employees will sit at home, according to a CNN analysis of contingency plans published by the federal government on Friday. Not all government agencies submitted contingency plans.

12. What will this do to the economy?

Depends on how long it lasts. If it's just a few days, the hit might not be severe. But three or four weeks? "(That) would do significant economic damage" -- reducing GDP by 1.4 percentage points for the quarter, says Mark Zandi, chief economist and co-founder of Moody's Analytics. The stock market didn't like the idea of a shutdown on Monday. All three U.S. indexes recorded losses.

13. How will this affect me?

In ways big and small. The mail will continue to come. The military will continue to fight. And Social Security checks will continue to be paid.

But if you need a federal loan to buy a house, you'll have to wait. If you want a gun permit or a passport, that won't happen anytime soon.
 Also per the Guardian:

Federal workers:

About 800,000 federal employees could see their paychecks jeopardised. Already hit hard by several unpaid furlough days caused by sequestration this year some workers have begun lobbying to receive back pay in the event of a shutdown. While Congress agreed to retroactively pay them during previous shutdowns, the fractured nature of this Congress makes such a step unlikely.

US military

The military's 1.4 million active-duty personnel would stay on duty, but their paychecks would be delayed. The US House proposal to delay Obamacare for a year – passed early Sunday morning but almost certain will be killed in the Senate – included a provision to ensure troops' paychecks continue.
About half of the Defense Department's civilian employees would be furloughed.[EDITOR'S NOTE: Congress did pass a resolution to allow military paychecks to continue; President Obama signed it into law prior to midnight last night]

Science

Nasa will furlough almost all of its employees, though it will continue to keep workers at Mission Control in Houston and elsewhere to support the International Space Station, where two Americans and four others are deployed. The National Weather Service would keep forecasting weather and issuing warnings and the National Hurricane Center would continue to track storms.

Travel

Federal air traffic controllers would remain on the job and airport screeners would keep funneling passengers through security checkpoints, though some airports have warned of delays at security. Federal inspectors would continue enforcing safety rules.
The State Department would continue processing foreign applications for visas and US applications for passports, since fees are collected to finance those services. Embassies and consulates overseas would continue to provide services to American citizens.

Courts

Federal courts would continue operating normally for about 10 business days after the start of a shutdown, roughly until the middle of October. If the shutdown continues, the judiciary would have to begin furloughs of employees whose work is not considered essential. But cases would continue to be heard.
The US supreme court is scheduled to begin its new term on October 7. In previous government shutdowns, it continued to operate as normal.

Mail

Deliveries would continue as usual because the US Postal Service receives no tax dollars for day-to-day operations. It relies on income from stamps and other postal fees to keep running.

District of Columbia

The city, which does not have autonomy over its own budget, briefly flirted with the idea of using the potential shutdown to make a stand when mayor Vince Gray moved to designate all city employees "essential," thereby avoiding the cuts in services like libraries that were expected. Some District politicians were willing to go so far as to get arrested over the show of defiance, but on Friday the city's lawyers approved using a $144m contingency fund to make up the difference if the federal government funds dry up.

Homeland security

The majority of the Department of Homeland Security's employees are expected to stay on the job, including uniformed agents and officers at the country's borders and ports of entry, members of the Coast Guard, Transportation Security Administration officers, Secret Service personnel and other law enforcement agents and officers. US Citizenship and Immigration Services employees would continue to process green card applications.

Veterans services

Most services offered through the Department of Veterans Affairs will continue because lawmakers approve money one year in advance for the VA's health programs. Veterans would still be able to visit hospitals for inpatient care, get mental health counseling at vet centers or get prescriptions filled at VA health clinics. Operators would still staff the crisis hotline and claims workers would still process payments to cover disability and pension benefits.
But those veterans appealing the denial of disability benefits to the Board of Veterans Appeals will have to wait longer for a decision because the board would not issue any decisions during a shutdown.

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