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Why has the federal government shut down and how are you affected?

October 4, 2013

By Jeremy Quattlebaum, Student Voices staff writer

Unless you’ve been under a rock, you can’t miss the fact that the federal government has ceased to operate at its normal level.

As many as 800,000 “nonessential” government workers have been placed on furloughs, or temporary unpaid leave, and several government agencies, like the National Park Service, have closed until Congress and President Obama come to an agreement on a bill to fund the government.

The standoff has led to the so-called government shutdown. The name is a bit dramatic, as a majority of government services like the Postal Service and Social Security still are operating, but other places like the Library of Congress and NASA have essentially stopped work. The National Zoo is closed, but don’t worry, the animals are still being fed.

The Head Start Program will start reducing payments, therefore cutting back services, and federally funded education services have ceased operations.

So who is to blame for the shutdown? Well, simply put, the Founding Fathers and current elected officials.

The federal budget process is outlined in the Constitution, specifically Article I, Section 7, which states: “All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.”

So the House is responsible for coming up with the federal budget plan, which is sent to the Senate. The Senate modifies the plan and approves its version. Then, both houses get together and come to an agreement on a budget plan. Both houses then pass the budget bill, which is sent to the president. The president can either sign the budget bill into law or vetoes it, which means the process starts all over again.

If the federal government cannot pass a budget, it ceases to spend money, also outlined in the Constitution. Article I, Section 9 states: “No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time.”

This provision was intended to prevent the president and Congress from spending the country’s budget on personal expenditures. Federalist James Madison coined this provision as the Constitution’s “power over the purse,” which was in response to the Founding Fathers’ fear of giving too much power to one branch, which could spend the nation’s wealth at its whim.

Sometimes the budget passes without too much disagreement, and the bill is smoothly signed into law. But in recent years, major disagreements have stalled the process. So Congress has started passing stopgap budgets, also called continuing resolutions, to keep the government running.

And it is here that we come to the shutdown, which started Oct. 1 because the Republican-controlled House and the Democrat-controlled Senate could not agree on a bill to fund the government.

A sticking point is that the House majority wants to see the new federal health care law, called the Affordable Care Act, defunded. This means that the law would still be on the books, but it would have no funding and essentially cease to function. The House has passed spending bills with provisions targeting the health care law and the Senate has rejected them.

The Senate and the president both see defunding or delaying the law as a deal breaker. They say that the health care law is the will of the people and constitutional, and vow to keep its funding intact.

So the government is at an impasse until Congress passes a bill to fund the government and the president signs it.

Want to contact your representative and senators and let them know what you think about the shutdown? You can find out who they are and send them an email: Click here for senators and here for representatives.

Learn more about the shutdown and which agencies and services are affected here.

What do you think?

How has the government shutdown affected you? Do you know anyone who else who has been affected? What would you say to your elected representatives? Join the discussion and let us know what you think!
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Comments
11/14/2013
Irving/Texas
Leanna
Bradley/Nimitz
The government shutdown didn't have any affect on me or anyone I personally know. However, it did affect the 800,000 "nonessential" workers who are put on a temporary unpaid leave or furloughs. I would say to the elected representatives that they need to make their decision and stop the government shutdown. The president and elected representatives are still being paid while the workers are out of a job. That's not fair to the workers.

11/14/2013
Irving, TX
Jesus Gonzalez
Bradley/Nimitz HS
The government shutdown has affected my parents because of their work they haven't been able to be payed.I also know police officers were affected by this.I would say to stop doing this because it happened before in the past just to make some money out of it.

11/14/2013
Irving/Texas
Lyndsey
Bradley/Nimitz
The government shutdown has not affected my life, or anyone's life around me. My friends and family don't often talk about what is happening with the government so we don't pay much attention. Even though I personally do not know anyone affected by the shutdown, I do know that a lot of families are struggling. If I were to contact my elected representatives I would tell them that even though they may have a lot of money and are able to take care of their families, most of America is not in the same boat. Therefore, they need to speed up their process and do what they feel needs o be done.

11/12/2013
Irving/Texas
Hailey
Bradley/Nimitz
Government Shut Down Speak Out The Government shut down because the House, controlled by the Republicans, and the Senate, controlled by the Democrats, couldn’t agree on a bill to fund Obamacare. I haven’t been directly affected by the government shut down, or at least not in a way that has been noticeable. Personally I don’t know anyone that has been affected by the government shut down, because the postal services and social security agencies are still working. Even though I don’t personally know anyone affected, I know that many people were affected by the government shut down and I don’t think that is acceptable. They’ve had to place 800,000 “nonessential” government workers on furloughs, which means they are on unpaid leave, and some never get their jobs back. If I could talk to my representative I would ask if they could come to a conclusion soon, so innocent civilians would be able to get their benefits again.

11/7/2013
Irving/TX
Annabel Trujillo
Bradley/Nimitz
Although I personally have not been affected by the government shutdown, I cannot say the same for my friend. Through the WIC program, my friend has been able to provide nutritional formula for her baby. However, since the government shut down, she has struggled to scrape up enough money to buy her baby nutritional formula. To my elected representatives, I would plead that they come to an agreement on funding the government quickly. I understand that it is no gambling matter, but to shut down the government is overstating a problem that can easily be resolved if those in disagreement recognize that an Affordable Care Act can prove helpful to society.

11/6/2013
Irving/Texas
David W.
Bradley/Nimitz HS
The government shutdown didn't directly affect me in any noticeable way due to the fact that I don't come into contact with government run programs/locations on a daily basis. The post office was still delivering, which would have been my only noticable change due to the shutdown if it had stopped. I didn't know anyone who was directly affected personally either although I do know there were 800,000 "unnecessary" workers put on unpaid temporary leave and others who are dependent on the government that were extremely affected. I would tell my elected representatives that decisions need to be made in a more reasonable and unselfish manner. The president and congress members were still paid during the shutdown, but all the workers they put out of work temporarily themselves were not.

11/6/2013
Irving/Texas
Daniel S.
Bradley/Nimitz
The government shutting down is like a dead laptop. It's not very useful unless you recharge it. Basically what I'm saying is most of the population could go without the use of said "laptop" however it up and running does help ease our lifestyle. Much like the government, most of us could go about our lives, yet knowing the government is all and well does give our mindset that everything is "A-okay." Temporary struggles happen on a daily basis, and most teach us valuable lessons. We learn from our mistakes and move on. The past helps shape our future! This is coming from an individual unaffected what so ever by the shutdown. I'm sure those families who rely heavily on a government check are at a mad panic right now, and to that I would strongly urge my elected representative to do everything in their power to get things moving. Put some effort into helping the nation. After all isn't that why we elected you in the first place?

10/27/2013
Irving/Tx
Seth
Bradley/Nimitz
Honestly i was not directly affected by the shutdown. I know about a couple who were affected but thankfully the shutdown is over with now.I would let my elected representatives know that these are people lives that are being messed with and imagine their siblings,parents,brother or sisters being affected because they work for the government.

10/27/2013
Irving/Texas
Roberto S
Bradley/Nimitz Hs
The shut really had little to no effect because even thought the government shut, my family really doesn't have dependency on the government at the moment, we were just concern about my, grandfather who is dependent on unemployment so when the shut, down happen my family was concern about his well being so we just send him money so and my aunt could pay the bill. The things I will say to my representatives is that they need to be more, concern about the american people who are dependent on the government and stop focusing on their own interests.

10/23/2013
Irving/Texas
Laura G
Bradley/Nimitz HS
The government shutdown did not affect me in any way but I am glad to know that it is now over. In my family no one has been affected and neither have my friends. If I were to come face to face with my elected representatives I would have simply told them to consider the millions of Americans who depend on the government to meet their needs. Even though it did not affect me and those around me, I do know of 800,000 people who were greatly hurt because our representatives can't come to an agreement.

10/17/2013
Irving/TX
Reyanna
Bradley/Nimitz
The government shut down has not affected me in any way really. I really wouldn't have known if it wasn't for the news. I can still go about my day doing all the normal things i'm use to doing. I think that the shut down mostly effects people who rely on government programs. Government workers are also affected.

10/16/2013
Irving/Tx
Hannah W.
Bradley/Nimitz
In the aspect of the “shut-down” of the government, I am not affected in a way that is to my knowledge. As far as I know, no one that I know is being affected in any way that is making a big change in their lives. It is something that is happening around me, but it is not something that is making a huge impact in my personal life. If I could say something to our elected officials I would say to them “You guys just need to get over whatever is going on and get along. You need to stop this nonsense and fix what you have messed up. You are not the only people in this country, you are ruining the lives of the american people.”

10/14/2013
Irving/Texas
Sarah M.
Bradley/Nimitz
In terms of how the shutdown has affected me, let me put it this way: If I hadn't heard that there was a shutdown from the news, I would have never known there was one at all. I still receive my mail, and my parents are still getting paid. The only people who I know who have been largely impacted would be federal workers,who have been furloughed, and anyone who relies on Government food programs. If I had a chance to speak to any of my representatives, I would let them know how ridiculous they are being. It's true that both major parties have always had their disagreements, but now it's affecting millions of people who rely heavily on the Government. They need to reach a consensus to get everything back on track and running smoothly. Both parties need to consider what is best for the country, not what's best for their pride.

10/14/2013
Irving/Tx
Jordan B.
Bradley/Nimitz
Do be honest most Americans could go on with their everyday lives and not know that the government was shut down, if it wasn’t for the news. I know that some if the branches of government are shut down, but it doesn't really affect me. I still go on with my normal, go to school, and juggle theatre and homework. It seems like everyone knows, but it doesn't really affect them. We all elect who we “think” will make our country survive, if it doesn't work out the way we think it does then we move on. So if we have delegates in there right now we just kinda have to put up with who we have right now.

10/11/2013
Irving/TX
Sergio G.
Bradley/Nimitz
To me nothing has changed. Everyday seems to be the same, like it had never happened. At one point I had totally forgot that the government was still shut down. Now to my fellow friends and family I believe it's the same as well knowing as we live in the middle class we don't really talk much about the government, but I believe we need to make a decision for the people who are being affected. In reality I don't really know many who work for the government, but those who do I believe this must be a harsh time now that most people in the United States live from check to check. Lastly I would like to talk about the actual problem deciding what to do? I mean do they not know how many people suffer because of this? If I would have a chance to speak to one of them I would let them know time is an essence for many, so compromise quick and get everything back to normal.

10/11/2013
Irving/TX
Sergio G.
Bradley/Nimitz
To me nothing has changed. Everyday seems to be the same, like it had never happened. At one point I had totally forgot that the government was still shut down. Now to my fellow friends and family I believe it's the same as well. Knowing as we live in the middle class we don't really talk much about the government.

10/11/2013
Watertown/MA
Natalia
Mr. Rimas
As of right now the government shutdown is not affecting me whatsoever. However, I am not saying this act is a good thing. But once again I do agree the blame for the shutdown is The Founding Fathers.

10/11/2013
Irving/TX
Scotty C.
Bradley/Nimitz
The government shutdown has not personally affected me in any way. Republicans and Democrats are battling it out like always, and this time it has caused a government shutdown. However, some individuals have been affected. Some government workers have been furloughed, military men and women benefits are on hold, and many memorials and national parks have been shutdown. Our elected representatives need to put away their pride, and start listening to the American public. Even if we have to fund our government piece by piece on small agreements, it needs to be done, so that our country does not go into default.

10/11/2013
Irving/TX
Brandon
Bradley/Nimitz
I do not believe that the government shutdown has affected me as I had not noticed that the government shutdown had occurred until I read this article. I, personally, do not know anyone who has been affected by the government shutdown. However, I do acknowledge that this government shutdown has impacted the lives’ of many people and that it quickly needs a resolution. I would tell my elected representatives that they more time they take, the more time these impacted families will suffer.

10/11/2013
Irving/tx
Elizabeth C.
Bradley/Nimitz
The government shut down has not directly affected me yet, but I do know that if this matter continues it will surly affect me in the near future. I will soon be applying for college grants and scholarships but since all funding comes from the government, I'm sure it will be very difficult to do so. Unfortunately a friend of mine is not receiving financial aid at the moment due to this government shutdown. As for the elected representatives I would say that they seriously don't know the pain they are causing to those families who are civil servants. Nobody should have to suffer the consequences of silly political decisions.

10/10/2013
Irving/Texas
Cyndel
Bradley/Nimitz
The reality of the matter is that innocent people are paying for decisions that those who are suppose to be looking for our “welfare” should of thought before passing a law.If they did not want future funding for the care bill they shouldn’t of let it pass. It would of saved us alot of time and money.The shutdown has not affected me personally ,but the fact that they’re people who are struggling is something that can’t be hidden. I have been able to see it everyday in the news lately, where government “non-essential workers” are literally screaming for the ability to work.The government might of “shutdown” ,but the lives of those people continue and the landlords/mortgages and bills won't wait.If I was able to talk to my elected representatives I would tell them that next time a bill is proposed for them to think if they truly support it.

10/10/2013
Irving/Tx
Marissa
Bradley/Nimitz
Though the government shutdown hasn't affected me on a personal level, I feel sorry for those who have been out of job/pay because of it. Due to the government shutdown my grandma can't get her medicine from the commissary, where she usually gets them from. She now has to go to Walgreens, where she will have to pay a higher price for her medicine. I would tell my elected representative that they need to come to a compromise of some sort to resolve the problem as quickly as possible.

10/10/2013
Irving/Texas
Monica M. M.
Bradley/Nimitz
When states enact legislation that contradict the federal laws it should simply be handled with proof of roles. The professor, Adam Winkler, clearly gave proof of who was to take priority in cases where the states don’t like the federal laws. In that we found that federals do because without it there would be no sense of balance and no set laws. Citizens of the state would be confused if the laws are not set clear by the ones who take priority.Therefore the marijuana law should be a crime if in possession and distributed. It’s understandable that our elected representatives can’t reach an agreement but what about us? We are depending on them to reach a final decision. Our representatives need to let organizations and buildings keep running while they reach a decision. The people make a living with what they’re trying to shut down so why not let them earn a little more. It gives the people a heads up and time to find a new job if necessary.

10/10/2013
Irving/TX
Yamilleth
Bradley/Nimitz
I haven't been affected, nor do I know anyone who has been affected by the shutdown. Congress and the President need to get their act together and try to come up with a way that both Democratic Senate and Republican House could agree on. Republican know that Democrats don't want Obama care funding to dry up, so they should try to compromise. I would tell Representatives , to think about the 80,000 people in Health, Housing, Immigration, Law enforcement, Parks and Museums, Regulatory agencies, Financial Regulators, cant access Visas and Passports, are Veterans, woman , infants and children. All these people don't have access to the resources they need because they can't come up with a solution to this or deal.

10/8/2013
Irving/Texas
Christian
Bradley/Nimitz
The Government shutting down effects me because with so many elected officials out of a job there is so much that could go wrong. There is not a single person that has not been effected some less than others but everyone has been effected someway or another. To my elected representative get it together it always works out everything happens for a reason and eventually there will be a fix and everything will get resolved.

10/8/2013
Irving/Texas
Rudy
Bradley/Nimitz
I have felt a slight ripple from the Government shutdown with certain government funded websites shut down. Other than that, I haven’t noticed much else change in my day to day life. I am, however, worried that this government shutdown will end with the defunding of the Affordable Care Act. I am strongly in favor of this bill and would not like to see it nonfunctional. I would ask my representatives to come to some quick compromise over the act, but considering that twenty two out of thirty six of the Texas representatives are Republican, I doubt they will disregard their party’s already set plan for a single individual who is unable to vote. I realize this event is more than just politics and would like the decision makers to do the same. I hope all the ordinary government workers affected by this find temporary ways to support their families while this is being settled. All we can do for now is sit back and wait for a resolution.

10/8/2013
Irving/Texas
Jose A.
Bradley/Nimitz
The government shutdown hasn't really effected me. I don't think I know anyone who's actually been effected by the shutdown. If I had the chance to talk to my representatives, I'd urge them to try to fix this issue because a lot of people are effected by this. I honestly think it's kind of silly for our government to not agree on an issue like this one.

10/8/2013
Irving/Tx
Pedro
Bradley/Nimitz
I am fortunate that the government shutdown hasn't directly affected me. I don't know anybody that has been affected by the government shut down either. I honestly don't know what I would say to my elected representatives. I don't even know who they are nor do I care to know who they are. But if I was had to say something, I would tell them that they need to reach an agreement that's for the greater good of the people and not for the benefits of them and their party. There's at least 800,000 people on unpaid leave who are depending on an agreement that needs to be reached soon.

10/7/2013
Aurora,OH
Andrew Sobodosh
Harmon Middle School/ Paul Frankmann
I feel sorry for the families that it's directly effecting. I am lucky that it's not effecting my parents and their pay checks. But my that's not for everyone. My dad is friend with a person named Bob that works for NASA. They have a list of people that switch off working ,but I don't know if he's getting payed. I really have know idea what we will do if we don't get to go to D.C. I know that the government is shut down ,but why don't they let the national monument keep on running. I really don't understand that part of the whole I issue to the extent of the monuments. If you have people monitoring the monuments in the first place why don't why let people in?

10/7/2013
Aurora/Ohio
Timothy
Mr. Frankman/Harmon Middle School
Congress has many people and they cant decide what to do, but by this they caused people not to work for days, weeks, months, years or maybe never again in D.C. and they were just asked to leave. The Senate wont budge, but this has not happened for 17 years now and now they decide to do this. Only depends on the conference and what happens.

10/7/2013
Irving/TX
Edward H.
Bradley/Nimitz
I honestly think that the government shutting down has not affected me. I do not know anyone who has been affected by the government shutting down. I have no clue what I would say to my elected representatives, because i don't know how to solve this problem. All I know is that they need to fix this quick before people who are furloughed are going to eventually lose their house or something.

10/7/2013
Irving/Tx
Alonzo
Bradley/Nimitz
Government running low on funds is never a good thing. In this case the government shutdown because there is a disagreement between the two house over a budget plan. As a high schooler in Irving, Tx I believe the government shutdown has not affected me or anyone that I know of. What I do know is that the government needs to come to an agreement because our economy is getting affected greatly and not in a positive way. 800,000 Americans with out pay, dozens of national parks closed. America as a whole is in depth, and this government shutdown approaching a week already isn't helping that issue out at all. Hopefully this major issue gets solved soon.

10/7/2013
Irving/Texas
Chadwick
Bradley/Nimitz
I have felt no immediate effects of the government shut down in my own personal life. It has however made me more aware of the operations of the government and how it can come to an impasse if no agreement is reached on certain issues. I do not know anyone who is directly affected by the government shut down; however, I have several family members in homeland security and they have said that several of the employees that aren’t necessary to operation have been furloughed. The only thing I would say to my elected representatives would be that even though a lot of people aren’t directly affected by this situation, this is one issue that needs to be fixed ASAP as those who are affected are not able to provide as they usually do for their families especially if they are on unpaid time. The less time those not being paid have to work without pay the better.

10/7/2013
Irving/ Texas
Emily
Bradley/Nimitz
The Senate and the President both think that the health care law is the will of the people. The truth is a whole bunch of citizens have outraged and want Obama Care to not be funded. Obama needs to see what the people want not what he thinks they need. The Republicans and the Democrats need to come to a common agreement on the bill fast. Its not fair to the 800.000 workers not be able to go to work and get paid because the government hasn't come to an agreement on how to fund itself. They need to keep working because putting people out of work wont solve anything until they can agree on a bill.

10/7/2013
Irving/Texas
Joseph C.
Bradley/Nimitz
The government shutdown has not affected me at all so far. I do not even know anyone who has been affected by it, and if I had a chance to say something to my elected representatives I would tell them to hurry and make a decision on a bill. Although I have not been affected; NASA, the National zoo, And many other non government workers have been put on an unpaid leave. This is not acceptable, and it needs to be resolved as quickly as possible.

10/7/2013
Irving/Texas
Imbri
Bradley/Nimitz
Personally, the government shutdown has not really affected me personally but I know that my boyfriend's step father has been laid off because of it. If I could somehow talk to congress, I would tell them to stop bickering like siblings, to stop making the American People suffer for their mistakes, and to try to push through a bi-partisan budget that could make sure the American People are all being paid and are all happy again.

10/7/2013
Rudyard / Montana
Sarah
Mrs. Campbell / North Star Schools
This governmental shutdown has effected me in the most personal way because my mother works for the NRCS and has been furloughed till further notice. We have money saved up, but if the government can't find a solution soon all our funds will dry up. I can't imagine how awful this shutdown must be for people who don't have that much money to begin with. No one knows how long this will last so they won't go out and try to find another job, but they still need a way to cumulate income. If I could talk to my representative I would tell them to compromise. I know Medicare is the Democrats baby, but if the Republicans won't take it, they need to bend. Also, the Republicans know the Democrats don't want to budge so they need to make their solution palatable to them. I believe they all need to put aside their petty squabbles and do what they were elected to do- help the people.

10/7/2013
Irving/Tx
Miriam
Bradley/Nimitz
I haven’t personally been affected by the shutdown nor do I know of anyone who has been. Congress needs to step because so many are depending on them. 800,000 workers should not have to be without work just because congress can’t compromise. These people have families to maintain and bills to pay. Congress needs to realize that each side isn’t going to get everything they want, they need to compromise. They are still getting paid and need to put themselves in others’ shoes. They need to understand the people are depend on them to come to an agreement fast.

10/7/2013
Irving/Tx
Brian J.
Bradley/Nimitz
As a 17 year old senior in high school, I can't really grasp the idea of the government shutdown and how it may be affecting me. I do know that because the National parks and other nationally run organizations are shut down now, the people as a whole are suffering. Our elected representatives need to figure something out soon before this snowball becomes to big to stop. As of now they're okay, but soon enough the general public will be able to notice a discernible change in how things are going. Our government needs to get things done, before we there's no turning back.

10/7/2013
Irving, Texas
Jacob F
Bradley/Nimitz
The government shut down because they're running low on funds and President Obama has yet to come to an agreement with Congress on a bill to fund the government. I'm not exactly sure how the government shutdown affects me other than just knowing the limits of the government and the effects of their choices. Personally, I don't know anyone who is affected by the government shutdown that I'm aware of, but hypothetically I believe that people who make their livings via tourism of national parks could be deeply affected by the shutdown. I would tell my elected representatives to hurry to a negotiation because we trust in the decisions they make, and if they plan on being reelected, they better show that they know what they are doing.

10/7/2013
Irving/Texas
Teven
Bradley/Nimitz
The very first people to lose funding should have been the representatives of the people in the House and the Senate. The Government shutdown has effectively prevented my seeing my Grandmother for Thanksgiving as obtaining a passport in a timely fashion is unlikely. To my elected officials: know that the opposite party isn't evil and that agreeing isn't hard when you have facts. Less time should be devoted to degrading your opponents and more time spent running the country.

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