Caitlin Trude | Contributing Writer
News outlets everywhere were abuzz when they learned of the U.S. government shutdown that occurred at the beginning of last week, when House Republicans and Senate Democrats could not come to a consensus on a new spending bill to fund the government.
On Sunday morning, The Senate rejected two spending bill amendments, proposed by the House, which denied any attempt to delay Obamacare and repeal Obamacare’s medical device tax. The bill was sent back to the House for reevaluation, during which the House agreed to keep the above amendments, unconsciously prompting a government shutdown seemingly overnight.
Last Tuesday, about 800,000 government workers were furloughed during the shutdown. However, most of the 400,000 defense department staff was told to continue working next week despite the shutdown.
According to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, this decision was made due to the interpretation of the Pay Our Military Act, which affirms service members’ exemption from the furlough. This act was passed on Monday, just one day before the government shutdown.
“I expect us to be able to significantly reduce – but not eliminate – civilian furloughs under this process,” Hagel said.
But even with the House of Representatives’ 407-0 approval to compensate federal workers once the shutdown ends, Republicans and Democrats have yet to compromise on a federal budget.
This coming Tuesday, the Senate will meet and affirm as to whether they will negotiate with the House, as per the House’s request.
“We will not go to conference with a gun to our head,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, adding that such a meeting with the House will not take place unless the House removes the amendments from its proposed spending bill.
President Obama also remains adamant in passing a bill to both end the shutdown and raise the $16.7 trillion credit limit. He recently propositioned Republican House Speaker John Boehner to present a spending bill that would include no reference to healthcare reforms.
“For as reckless as a government shutdown is, an economic shutdown that comes with default would be dramatically worse,” the Democratic president stressed. “There’s no winning when families don’t have certainty over whether they’re going to get paid or not,” he told another group of reporters that week in regard to the furloughs.
On Friday, Democratic leaders revealed that they had plans in the making to force a legislative vote in order to reopen the federal government, thus ending the shutdown. This plan would utilize a discharge petition that would potentially send a pre-existing bill from a committee to the House floor once a simple majority of chamber lawmakers signed the petition.
CNN reported that a three or four weeklong shutdown may cost the economy about $55 billion, according to economist Brian Kessler from Moody’s Analytics.
On October 17, Congress will discuss the debt ceiling in the hope of thwarting a government debt default.
This has been the first government shutdown since 1995, which lasted for a total of 21 days.