Not since 1996 has the nation seen a government shutdown, and that one lasted 21 days. Since Oct. 1, the nation has seen a furlough of over 800,000 federal workers as a result of Congress not enacting regular appropriations or a continuing resolution for the 2014 fiscal year.
Services ranging from National Parks to Head Start programs are being affected due to the furloughs. The shutdown started when the Republican-led House of Representatives offered a continuing resolution with language delaying or defunding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare,” took effect on Oct. 1.
A poll released this week reveals that Americas are not happy with the way Republicans are handling the situation and blame them. According to an ABC News and Washington Post poll, seven in 10 adults point the finger to the Republicans for the mess, half don’t approve with the way President Barack Obama is handling it and 61 percent believe Democrats are not doing a good job at handling the situation.
At a press conference with Republican leaders on Tuesday, Rep. John Boehner once again pressed Obama and Senate Democrats to come to the table and work with Republicans to find a path forward on government funding, the debt limit and protecting all Americans from Obamacare.
“You know, Americans expect us to work out our differences,” Boehner said. “But refusing to negotiate is an untenable position. And frankly, by refusing to negotiate, Harry Reid and the president are putting our country on a pretty dangerous path.”
Another factor coming into play is the debt ceiling. Republicans are reportedly skeptical about the chaos Obama is waring of if the debt ceiling isn’t raised.
On Tuesday, the president telephoned Boehner from the Oval Office and repeated what he told him when they met at the White House last week. Obama is willing to negotiate with Republicans—after the threat of government shutdown and default have been removed—over policies that Republicans think would strengthen the country.
Obama also repeated his willingness to negotiate on priorities that he has identified, including policies that expand economic opportunity, support private sector job creation, enhance the competitiveness of American businesses, strengthen the Affordable Care Act and continue to reduce the nation’s deficit.
“I think the American people simply want government to work. And there’s no reason that there has to be a shutdown in order for the kinds of negotiations Speaker Boehner says he wants to proceed. Hold a vote. Call a vote right now,” Obama said.
House Democrats sent a letter to Boehner this week demanding a vote on a piece of legislation that would end the shutdown and fund the government. A vote on the legislation would open the entire federal government immediately.
“By refusing to open the government, House Republicans continue to take our nation on their dangerous, ideological path that’s threatening job growth, leaving families with less security and our country with less certainty and stability,” said Rep. Charlie Rangel. “Our message is clear: We demand a vote to end the shutdown and reopen our entire government so Americans can move on with their lives.”
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries called the shutdown a “sad moment” in the nation’s history. He blames tea party extremists for the shutdown.
Even if you’re looking for guidance about the government shutdown via the president’s website at www.whitehouse.gov, you will see this message:
“Due to Congress’s failure to pass legislation to fund the government, the information on this website may not be up to date. Some submissions may not be processed, and we may not be able to respond to your inquiries.”
A clear sign that even the president of the United States is having a hard time getting his message out online because of the government shutdown. The move by House Republicans has left 800,000 federal employees furloughed, including 27,000 who work in New York City. Several government agencies can’t event respond to media inquires, including for this article, about whether they will be able to provide services.
From national landmarks to families of soldiers not getting death benefits, it seems people across the country are feeling the affects; some more than others.
For example those who benefit from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) might see cuts due to a lack of funding to the Department of Agriculture. However, food stamps and EBT will not be affected thanks to the Recovery Act.
Call centers, hotlines and regional offices that help veterans understand their benefits will close to the public. Veterans’ compensation, pension, education and other benefits could be cut off in the case of an extended shutdown.
Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other mandatory programs will not be effected.
The shutdown could even have an effect on the ongoing recovery from Hurricane Sandy. The second installment of relief money from the disaster has not been issued yet. This could result in a delay in grants and loans for businesses and homeowners.
“Government can’t work for anyone if it is shut down, and if the people we elected to lead refuse to work together to solve problems and move our country forward,” said Bloomberg. “Right now, Washington’s gridlock is doing real harm to our nation’s economy, and if they don’t get their acts together soon, New York City families, especially those who endured the worst from Hurricane Sandy, will feel real pain.”
The Department of Interior is shut down, meaning that all 401 National Parks are closed. All 10 federally-run local attractions are closed as a result, including the African Burial Ground National Monument, Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
When calling any local national park, messages announced an indefinite closure and/or instructions on refunds on tickets.
“Throughout America, this shutdown will needlessly hurt children, civil servants who will be furloughed and without pay, veterans who courageously served our country, seniors and countless others,” he said. “The House majority should restore government funding forthwith, come back to the negotiating table and get back to doing the people’s business.”
Delayed paychecks for almost 1.5 million active-duty military personnel, the closure of our national parks and museums and delays in the processing of applications to federal agencies are a few ways in which Rep. Yvette Clarke has said the nation is being affected. She said American families are suffering the consequences.
“I remain committed to finding a resolution to this unnecessary crisis as soon as possible so that we can continue to focus on the recovery of our economy and on the real priorities of our nation: good jobs with benefits, comprehensive immigration reform, and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act,” she said.