Five things to know about the government shutdown
1. What a government shutdown entails
The formal definition of a government shutdown is the closure of non-essential offices of the government due to lack of approval on the government programs’ budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Currently, Congress is unable to agree on certain aspects of the annual budget, legally requiring that the national government temporarily terminate programs, organizations, departments and any other entity not fulfilling a so-called “essential” role.
The U.S. federal government entered a government shutdown Oct. 1, 2013, the first day of the 2014 federal fiscal year.
2. What constitutes an essential role
In general, jobs dealing with national security, foreign policy and safety of property will be left alone. Other entities left unscathed are self-funded agencies such as the U.S. Postal Service. Finally, anything written into permanent law or budgets previously approved, such as Social Security and food stamps, will remain. Because the salaries of Congress’ members are written into permanent law until their term ends, they still receive compensation.
Roughly 800,000 federal workers have now been furloughed. A furlough is when employees are ordered to take a mandatory, unpaid leave of absence. This single layoff spawns issues ranging in severity from more than 400 national parks and museums closing to food inspection and environmental safety operations shutting down. These workers may or may not receive compensation, and some of the remaining 1.3 million essential workers may work unpaid until the government is fully open.
4. The shutdown is affecting college students
Due to the Department of Education’s furlough, financial aid already rewarded is safe and sound. However, prolonged delay may incur long-term issues regarding grants. Loans or pending financial aid may be interrupted, deferred or outright canceled.
Aside from financial disruptions, numerous government websites are now shut down or are no longer up to date.
5. Congress allowed the shutdown to happen
The reason Congress is still unable to agree on the national budget is dissent from the Republican Party concerning the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare. In particular, the division is based on disagreements concerning when the PPACA will be actively put into motion and funding. Some headlines are reporting that the government may default on its loans, but Forbes states this is highly unlikely. The government’s full services will resume when Congress finalizes this issue.