ArticleSeptember 30th, 2013
Need-to-Know: Government Shutdown!
Political negotiations over the government’s budget in Washington, D.C., are at a standstill, with Republicans in Congress threatening to shut down the government unless President Barack Obama agrees to defund the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as “Obamacare”.
But what exactly is a government shutdown and how does it happen? Here’s your need-to-know guide.
A government shutdown happens when the government’s budget for day-to-day operations expires, and the President and Congress have not yet agreed on a way to continue funding.
If they can’t agree on a budget, they can pass a continuing resolution, which is a temporary measure that continues funding the government at normal levels. As Dylan Matthews of The Washington Post put it, a continuing resolution says to the federal government, “Keep on spending like you’ve been spending till we can actually come to some agreement on how much you should be spending.”
This graphic from the National Priorities Project breaks down the budget passage process as much as possible:
This time around, the continuing resolution that has been funding the government since March 28 expires on September 30. If the President and Congress can’t agree on what to do, the government will shut down.
Currently, the disagreement on the budget is over the Affordable Care Act. Some Republicans in Congress say that will not vote for any budget unless the President signs a bill that defunds the ACA, something he would never do.
Has this happened before?
Yes, the government has shut down before, most recently in 1995 and 1996 when President Clinton and then-Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich could not reach an agreement on funding to social services.
What happens during a government shutdown?
When the government shuts down, all “non-essential” federal employees have to stay home, national parks, museums and monuments close, and anyone relying on government services like unemployment and veteran’s benefits or government loans could see their payments delayed or cut.
But not everyone has to stay home. The president, Congress, FAA air traffic controllers and employees, “deemed to perform emergency work involving saving lives or protecting property, including military service, law enforcement, or direct provision of medical care,” continue to work.
For more on the shutdown, watch this segment from the PBS NewsHour.
Submit Your Student Voice
Tooltip of RSS content 3
Local sheriff shares concerns over federal immigration laws
Dozens of cities throughout the United States have been deemed “sanctuary cities,” where local governments resist cooperating with federal immigration officials, including handing over undocumented immigrants who have may committed very minor offenses. Continue readingGovernment & Civicsimmigrationlaw enforcementsanctuary citySocial Studies
Community comes together to help homeless students and families
In order to address the homelessness problem facing students, a school district in Kansas City, Kansas, with over 1,000 homeless students, partnered with Avenue of Life, a nonprofit organization that brings students out of homelessness by supporting the entire family. Continue readingGovernment & CivicshomelesshomelessnesspovertySocial Studies
Student volunteers use technology to monitor human rights abuses
In places where violent conflict makes it difficult for human rights investigators to observe, social media platforms now make it possible to document abuses.Government & Civicshuman rightssocial mediaSocial Studies
Lesson plan: What public libraries can teach us about immigration
In this PBS NewsHour Extra lesson, students will explore what immigration looks like at grassroots levels across the country. Students will research if their community has programs that welcome immigrants and explore options for creating similar civic activities. Continue readingcivic engagementGovernment & CivicsimmigrationlibrarySocial StudiesSRLstudent reporting labs
House Speaker Paul Ryan on immigration ban, Russia
In an interview with PBS NewsHour’s Judy Woodruff, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Paul Ryan said he is getting along well with President Donald Trump, although he disagrees with some of the President’s recent statements. Continue readingDonald TrumpGovernment & Civicsimmigration banPaul RyanRussiaSocial Studies