Every fiscal year Congress passes a spending bill that is vital in allowing the government to function. This year, however, House Republicans have refused to vote on the bill unless it includes cuts to the health program ObamaCare. Senate Democrats rejected the demands, leaving the issue a stalemate and thousands of people, including SSU students, out of luck.
Without a new spending bill being passed, national parks, museums, and zoos have been shut down indefinitely. According to CNN.com 800,000 government workers have been forced to stay home without pay until an agreement can be made.
SSU students have also been directly affected by the shutdown.
The State of Jefferson Mathematics Congress, an annual event planned for Oct. 4 - 6 in which the SSU Math Club travels to Northern California, was forced to be relocated. The original destination, Whiskeytown Lake, is a national park, and is therefore currently closed due to lack of funding from the federal government.
“Every year we have a math congress and at the last minute when the government shut down we had to find a new camp site,” said Kaitlyn Vigue, an instructional student assistant and math major who helped plan the trip.
The destination found to replace the closed national park, Prairie Creek State Redwoods, was able to stay open through the shutdown because it received funding from the state rather than the federal government.
The shutdown forced a last minute scramble to find a new site, and the alternative turned out to be costly for the Math Club.
“Usually we have a group campsite so it is one fee and it’s pretty nominal in comparison. The place we went was $35 per night to camp and it was a two night event,” said Vigue. “I’m fairly sure we’re not getting reimbursed for anything.”
With the national issue remaining unresolved, President Barack Obama called for House Republicans to end the shutdown during his weekly address.
“The American people don’t get to demand ransom in exchange for doing their job. Neither does Congress,” said Obama during his speech. “They don’t get to hold our democracy or our economy hostage over a settled law.”
The settled law the president referred to is the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as ObamaCare, which remains the dividing factor keeping Congress from agreeing on a spending bill.
Proponents of ObamacCare hope the law will make healthcare more affordable, strengthen Medicare, and prevent people from being turned away due to pre-existing conditions.
That being said, many politicians have issues with the new healthcare law, including U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.
“Later this morning in Maryland, the President will try yet again to sell his namesake health care plan to a skeptical public,” said McConnell to the Senate on Sept. 26. “He’ll claim that Americans will have lots and lots of options under ObamaCare. Unfortunately, keeping the plan you have and like will not be an option for a great many Americans.”
While it is uncertain which party will budge first on the shutdown, many look to Oct. 17, when Congress must vote to raise the debt ceiling or allow the U.S. to skip some previously authorized payments.
Some worry that if the government does not resume negotiations that the country will be forced to default on its payments, thus seriously damaging U.S. credit ratings.
However, according to an article published by Forbes Magazine, skipping payments to service providers that were not previously appropriated does not qualify as default, and will not damage the nation’s credit.
“For as reckless as a government shutdown is, an economic shutdown that comes with default would be dramatically worse,” said Obama, concluding his weekly address. “Pass a budget. End this government shutdown.”