The U.S. Government Shutdown hits nation at midnight

Congress couldn’t reach a solution in order to avoid a government shutdown, which has not happened since 1995. Because Congress cannot agree to a resolution, there will be direct ramification that leave the various federal agencies to map out plans for operating only with essential personnel, according to The New York Times.

A government shutdown occurs when Congress cannot agree on appropriation bills or continuing funding resolutions, which is Congress’s only Constitutionally defined duty. That means federal agencies do not have the legal authority to spend tax payer money past the fiscal year which ends at midnight Oct. 1.

Dr. Robin Bittick, an associate professor of Political Science at Sam Houston commented on how a shutdown could affect the various programs.

“Any kind of freezing in the budget could create problems,” Bittick said.

The Department of Education is responsible to processing and issuing Pell Grants and Direct Student Loans. Employees of this agency would be subject to furloughs, only critical government employees would stay working during a government shutdown.

“Generally what you will see happen in these types of situations, they will prioritize. People will be sent home. They will keep people in combat functional,” Bittick said. “They will find a way to keep the military going.”

There would also be a direct cost if the government shutdown were to indeed pass. The last government shutdown, per the Congressional Research Service, cost $1.4 billion.

Only federal agencies that receive funding independent of Congress will remain open in the event of a shutdown. The U.S. Postal Service would remain open and mail would still be delivered because it is independent funding, according to USA Today.

In addition, the national parks would be closed, along with any national museums and the national zoo. The Sam Houston National Forest is one of the local entities that would be directly affected.

This would also affect the gun license processing department that oversees all permit requests. In addition to furloughing federal employees, military personnel might not receive their paychecks while they will still report to duty. The House of Representatives passed the “Pay our Military Act” 420-0 Sunday, but the bill must still pass the Senate and be signed into law by President Barack Obama.

House Republicans and Senate Democrats have been sparring for weeks over the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. Republicans desperately want to defund it. Democrats want to keep it just as desperately.

There was a potential government shut down in 2011 with a resolution reached at the last minute to avoid such an occurrence. If Congress does not reach an agreement many agencies will not be able to operate.

The last shutdown in 1995 ended with a bipartisan compromise between President Bill Clinton and Speaker of the House John Boehner.

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