If you have paid any attention to the news lately, you’ve probably figured out that, like any other time of the year, something is going wrong in Washington, D.C. Depending on where you figured this out, the blame could be placed on Democrats, Republicans, the President, or any combination of the three. Regardless of whose fault it is, right now our government is currently ‘shut down,’ and you should know just what that means.
The government is shutting down because Congress could not agree on a budget for the oncoming year. This is mostly due to the primarily Republican House not agreeing with the primarily Democratic Senate on how much money should be allowed for the Affordable Care Act. Again, depending on who you ask, different people will tell you whose fault it is. When it comes down to it, however, Congress failed to come to a compromise, which is what they are elected to do in the first place.
The people affected by the government shutdown include anybody who is paid by the government. This includes over 3.3 million people, according to CNN. The types of jobs these people have range from high-level executives like the President and members of the cabinet, all the way down to the National Parks Service workers who make minimum wage.
In the event of a government shutdown, a number of ‘non-essential’ employees will be ‘furloughed,’ which is a fancy way of saying temporarily laid off. In this particular case, as many as 800 thousand employees could have their pay suspended, according to the Washington Post.
The employees who are viewed as ‘essential,’ meaning soldiers and members of certain departments (such as the Department of Energy) will continue to work and be paid. Essential employees also include the President, who will continue to be paid his annual wage of $400 thousand during the shutdown and members of Congress. According to CNN, however, some members of Congress will be donating their pay to charity during the shutdown.
In addition to employees being sent home, a plethora of government properties will be shut down as well, including every National Park and all government websites (you can see this for yourself- just check out census.gov.) These services and properties will remain unavailable until the government starts up again.
The shutdown lasts as long as it takes for Congress to figure out its issues, which could be a very long time. The last shutdown, which was in 1995, lasted 21 days, and this current one has shown no signs of being resolved. The only thing Congress could agree on this week was allowing soldiers to continue to be paid in the event of a shutdown. When it comes to the spending bill in question, who knows how long it will take for both sides to reach a compromise.
According to ABC news, the entire District of Columbia is supposed to shut down along with the rest of the government. This time, however, the mayor of DC has announced that the city operations not directly tied to the Federal government will be deemed as essential, and therefore continue. This, however, does not include the thousands of government employees who will now be without a job.
Federal properties across the country will also be shut down.