The first government shutdown in almost 17 years ended after President Barack Obama signed a budget bill. The shutdown was caused by disagreements among members of Congress over the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Since Congress could not pass a budget bill before the fiscal year ended on September 30th, the government was forced shutdown. [i]
During the government shutdown, most government functions ceased to operate and an estimated 800,000 government employers were furloughed without pay, however, Congress did pass legislation that would give furloughed workers back pay for the days they missed. [ii] Social Security, Air Traffic Control, and active military pay were funded.[ii] However, National Parks and regulatory agencies, like the Environmental Protection Agency, were closed. Law enforcement agencies, like the Federal Bureau of Investigation were greatly diminished, and the Justice Department suspended most civil cases. [iii]
The government shutdown occurred after the Democrat-controlled Senate rejected a budget proposal from the Republican-controlled House, which included provisions that would delay the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act for another year. [i]
“There is a small minority that is holding up the budget – the Republican Tea Party,” said Francis Mayle, a Social Studies teacher.
Some blame the Tea Party and far right conservatives, like Texas Senator Ted Cruz, for causing the government shutdown. Cruz supported the use of a government shutdown in order to stop the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act from coming into law. [iv] He also filibustered the healthcare act on the Senate floor for 21 hours.
Many people disapprove of the use of such tactics.
“It’s disappointing that some politicians are more concerned with pushing their agenda than the political process,” said Amy Lucisano, a Social Studies teacher.
As the government shutdown continued, the country faced the deadline to raise the debt ceiling. The debt ceiling is the limit on the amount of money the treasury department is allowed to borrow to pay off existing financial obligations. The government was estimated to reach the debt limit by October 17th. [v] Economists predict that failing to raise the debt ceiling would cause the government to default on its debt, which could have disastrous economic consequences worldwide. [v]
After 16 days of government shutdown and just hours before the deadline to raise the debt ceiling, Congress agreed on a deal to end the government shutdown until January 15th and extend the borrowing limit until February 7th. The deal also established framework for the upcoming budget negotiations. [vi]
Most students from Tech did not feel the effects of the government shutdown.
“Neither I nor anyone I knew was effected,” said Allen Gee ’15. However, many of students were still frustrated.
“It seemed that everyone was blaming someone else instead of working towards a compromise,” said Alex Qian ’14.
While many pegged Cruz or Speaker Boehner as the clear culprit, some refused to blame any one person.
“I think politics is a system where people must find a general agreement for that specific problem. That is why we can’t say that only one person is to blame,” said Young Kim ‘14