Facing challenges to raise the debt ceiling and start the Affordable Health Care Act (Obamacare), Republicans and Democrats did what they do best on October 1st: they disagreed. The Senate insisted on implementing Obamacare in the budget for the next fiscal year, and the House responded by proposing a bill that would delay the policy’s enactment. That was not good enough. And without a definite plan on how to spend taxpayer money, our government effectively shut down.
The U.S., known for being an economic leader on a global scale, is facing some serious repercussions because of this shutdown. 800,000 government employees are going on furlough; meaning that they will not be called into work and will not be paid until this crisis has been resolved. This battle between the Democratic Senate and the Republican House of Representatives has gone much farther than their normal bickering, now it’s directly affecting and harming Americans.
Sophomore Melissa Gruba had this to say, “This battle over one policy has shut down our entire government, maybe it just isn’t the policy we need right now. But what worries me is, what will set them off next?” Gruba is like many Americans who are confused and a little scared about the future of the 113th Congress.
Even House Speaker John Boehner has said, “When we have a crisis like we’re in the middle of this week, the American people expect their leaders to sit down and try to resolve their differences.” Although, Boehner still insists that the Senate make concessions to the original plan for Obamacare.
The House, who proposed the Continuing Appropriations Resolution 2014 bill on September 29th, demonstrated that they meant to pass a budget. However, this bill would have defunded and therefore delayed Obamacare, allocating more money towards Departments of Agriculture, Defense, Homeland Security, the FDA and all programs included in the 2013 budget. This did not sit well with the Senate who denied the bill the very next day.
Knowing that Congress is the only branch out of our three that has the ability to borrow money, President Obama has asked Congress numerous times within the past few months to raise the debt ceiling so that America could “pay its bills.” The national debt has reached a little more than $16 trillion, and without a budget in action, there is no plan to lower it.
This isn’t the first time that the President has had troubles swaying Congress, former President Bill Clinton had his struggles with the House in 1995 and 1996. After many compromises to create a more balanced the budget, to cut taxes, and changing existing social programs, it wasn’t the policies that separated the right from the left, it was the pace of the spending. In the end, President Clinton vetoed Congress’ new budget plans that did not cooperate with his attempts at compromise. In retaliation Congress stopped all government work for three weeks, but soon surrendered to Clinton’s compromises.
In an attempt to ease the current pain, the 113th Congress voted 407-0 to reimburse the furloughed employees for their lost wages once the government began to operate again. Yet, Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid chastised the House for not taking immediate action when he said, “It’s really cruel to tell workers they’ll get their back pay once the government opens and then refuse to open the government.”
Thankfully, mandatory payments will still be made. This includes military salaries, Social Security checks along with Congress’ and the President’s paychecks.