Debt ceiling looms over Congress during US government shutdown

The United States federal government has been shut down for 10 days with America one week away from defaulting on its loans. All across the country the closure of federal agencies and facilities is affecting the everyday lives of Americans.

Sam Houston State University political science professor Heather Evans, Ph.D., assessed the measures that would have to take place to end the shutdown.

“To end the shutdown, either [House Majority Leader John] Boehner and the House Republicans will have to agree to a continuing resolution without any anti-Affordable Care Act measures, or Obama has to negotiate with some of the aspects of the Affordable Care Act,” Evans said. “I don’t see Obama and Senate Democrats agreeing to that, given that it is their key legislation.”

With the government shutdown having occurred, many tourists are missing the opportunity to visit the Statue of Liberty, tour the Grand Canyon and could not visit Yosemite National Park on its 123rd birthday.

The U.S. Department of Education and its Office for Civil Rights has been forced to halt its mandated responsibility to investigate and ensure colleges and universities uphold Title IX, maintaining gender equity when sexual violence occurs on campus and prevent the mishandling of reporting data regarding sex crimes on college campuses. The Huffington Post reports approximately 94 percent of the Office for Civil Rights has been subject to federal furlough.

The unlikelihood of Congress passing a clean continuing resolution at present, according to the Washington Post, which would end the shutdown, leaves speculation over how much longer the various federal agencies can functionally operate.

The Women, Infants and Children Program, which provides food for pregnant women and new mothers as well as baby formula, is another agency that has seen its funding cut. The Texas WIC locations are still open at for the time being.

As a result of the government shutdown, non-essential federal employees have been issued furloughs. Rallies are being conducted at the Capital building as a result of the shutdown including members of the American Federation of Government Employees. AFGE estimates that 800,000 federal employees are currently not at their job post. The House of Representatives has passed a bill to provide federal workers with wages and it is supported by President Obama, but it has not been approved by the Senate, reports CNN.

The day after Congress failed to pass a spending bill resulting in the shutdown of the federal government President Barack Obama clarified the cause behind this event in a statement made from the White House.

“One faction, of one party, in one house of Congress, in one branch of government shutdown major parts of the government all because they didn’t like one law,” Obama said.

The Congressional dispute between reaching a spending agreement and altering the conditions of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, parts of which went into effect the same day as the shutdown, has further implications, reports CBS News.

If Congress does not agree to raise the debt ceiling, which allows the U.S. to pay back current debts, the U.S. will run out of cash-on-hand on Oct. 17.

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