Federal government shuts down

The government shutdown on Oct. 1 due to Congress's inability to pass a budget, affecting various government programs. (Photo by Trevor McGoldrick courtesy of flickr_creative_commons)

The government shutdown on Oct. 1 due to Congress’s inability to pass a budget, affecting various government programs. (Photo by Trevor McGoldrick courtesy of flickr_creative_commons)

While scores of Americans across the country slept, the federal government began a partial shutdown of its services and agencies at midnight on Oct. 1. Only essential personnel remain intact, and even they are limited in their capacity to function. The rest have been furloughed, leaving around 800,000 stranded without work or pay.

This is the first shutdown since 1995 and comes after disputes over Obama’s Affordable Care Act (colloquially known as Obamacare) went unresolved in Congress. The House, controlled by Republicans, demanded that Obamacare receive no funding in the 2014 fiscal year budget, threatening to pass no budget at all if their condition was not met. The Senate, controlled by Democrats, refused to comply, definitively saying that it would not pass a budget in which Obamacare went unfunded. Both sides stood their ground, and the government has consequentially shutdown.

Al Jazeera America published a list of services that will and will not remain open during the shutdown. Among the survivors are air traffic controllers, postal workers, Homeland Security employees, military personnel and prisons. Services closing include recreational parks, NASA, most food safety personnel and most work safety personnel. Although the IRS will remain open, it will not answer questions regarding taxes (which citizens still must pay). Similarly, the Department of Social Security will not return Freedom Of Information Act requests, putting investigative journalism on hold.

Services provided by state governments should continue operating unless they depend on Federal financing.

In a speech given at noon Oct. 1, President Barack Obama said Republicans forced the Government to shutdown over an “ideological crusade,” adding “we’re better than this” after urging Congress to pass a budget. The President himself, however, has said that he would veto a budget that defunded Obamacare should one reach his desk.

Although many services have been suspended, Congress can end the shutdown at any time by passing a budget.

Tuesday afternoon, 80 World War II veterans, many in wheelchairs, stormed the WWII memorial, which had been closed due to the shutdown, earning onlookers’ applause.

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