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US government shutdown: What to be scared of?

News | 22.09.2013 | 11:34
 

Democrats and Republicans in the US Congress are waging a budget battle that threatens a government shutdown on October 1 unless lawmakers reach a compromise on a federal spending measure. But what is exactly a government shutdown and what effects could it have?

First of all a government shutdown is a situation in which the government stops providing all but "essential" services. A government shutdown result from the failure of Congress to enact an annual federal budget within the timeframe established by law. Under a budget law passed 39 years ago, bills funding the federal government should be approved by Sept. 30, the last day of the fiscal year. In the past 17 years Congress did not meet its statutory deadline for approving the spending bills.

This year’s confrontation is over the conservative Republican effort to defund the Affordable Care Act. On Friday, the House approved a stopgap bill to fund the government that would strip all funding for the law, large parts of which are set to take effect Oct. 1. The bill is considered to have no chance of passage in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

What’s important to remember is in any shutdown the government does not stop functioning completely. By law, certain agencies must be allowed to operate with unsalaried employees. Typically, services that continue despite a shutdown include police, fire fighting, the National Weather Service and its parent agencies, the postal service, armed forces, utilities, air traffic management, and corrections (the penal system).

Federal workers and contractors who stay on the job would not get a paycheck at first. But they would be entitled to retroactive pay once the government is running again.

The president and political appointees are exempt from furloughs, although that not true for all White House staff. Lawmakers would continue working and would be responsible for deciding who on their staffs is essential.

As for how a shutdown ends… Actually there is no law setting a time limit. But even so there is nothing to be really scared of. The borders would still be patrolled and veterans in hospitals would still receive care.

Voice of Russia, Reuters, The Washington Post

 
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