On Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year, the United States government shut down for the first time since the Clinton administration in 1995.
With a tally of 230-189 on Sept 20, House of Representative Republicans voted to pass a bill that could potentially cut funding for the Affordable Care Act [ACA]. The ACA is a federal health care bill that offers free preventative care for families and holds health insurance companies accountable.
While the bill was on its way to the Senate, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Republican-Virginia) implored the Senate Democrats to follow by House Republicans’ example and vote with them in favor of stopping the Affordable Care Act.
The Senate voted 100-0 to send the bill back to the House in an attempt to avoid a shutdown. The Senate and House sent the bill back and forth, failing to come to a resolution regarding federal finances and setting in motion the first government shutdown in nearly two decades.
“[All] agencies should now execute plans for an orderly shutdown due to the absence of appropriations,” a statement from the Office of Management and Budget said in the New York Times.
“You have this group that keeps saying somehow if you’re not with them, you’re for Obamacare. If you’re not with exactly their plan, exactly what they want to do, then you’re somehow for Obamacare, and it’s just getting a little old,” said Rep Devin Nunes (R- Calif), in an interview with the New York Times. “It’s moronic to shut down the government over this.”
The previous government shutdown lasted for 28 days and the total cost of tourism losses and adverse effects on federal contracts came to $1 billion, according to CNN. A complete government shutdown means no funding for any service the federal government provides; in other words, loans for small businesses or buying a home will not be processed, police officers and the Army will not receive their paychecks, veterans’ checks will be suspended, and federal employees will be on furlough. Tourism will also be affected heavily as national parks, zoos, and museums have closed down.
Students at Mills believe that the shutdown could be detrimental to our image in other countries.
“The shutdown happening right now in the [country] is really embarrassing,” said first year International Relations major Margarita de la Torre. “So many countries look up to us, and it shows that our government needs to step our game up, look past our parties, and get things done.”
According to Mills professor of government, Paul Schulman, the impact the shutdown on Mills will be minor in the short term. According to Schulman, funding for student loans received from the federal government will continue on since they were already in effect and any funds that come directly from the Department of Education might be endangered during the shutdown, but since Mills is a private school and does not rely as much on state funds, the financial impact will be minimal.
According to CNN, the country will reach the National Debt Limit, the maximum amount of money the country can borrow on Oct. 17. This puts a limit on how many bonds can be issued a year. If the shutdown proceeds into the middle of October, this will cause even more problems for the United States’ economy. Domestically, problems with the Treasury Department will occur regarding bills and bonds that people can cash in because the government will not be able to pay back the money, but to the creditors from foreign countries as well.
“Ramifications of [this] could be really severe,” Schulman said of the National Debt Limit being reached. “Worldwide, we don’t know the impact [this] will have on the world economy.”
The ACA has long been a controversial issue between the two major political parties, with House Republicans voting 42 times unsuccessfully to repeal it.
“Bipartisanship seems to be a concept of the past,” sophomore Meme Gottwald said in an email. “We can’t forget that congress is supposed to do what is best for the country and its people; I fail to see how shutting down the government is in the best interest of the United States.”
Political parties have been gravitating towards opposite sides of the political spectrum, either becoming more liberal or more conservative.
“Our country is increasingly polarized, ‘us’ versus ‘them’ and ‘either/or’ instead of ‘both/and,’” wrote Mona Murray in an article for The Huffington Post.
Because the Democratic and Republican parties have positioned themselves to opposite ends of the spectrum, it leads to many difficulties in Congress when it comes to passing bills. The ACA is just one of them.
“Our parties have become polarized in a way that our structure of government doesn’t accommodate,” Schulman said.