Budget bill stalls, furloughs follow
Health care entanglement in spending bill results in 1st shutdown since 1996
Published: Tuesday, October 1, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, October 1, 2013 01:10
Congress failed to approve a 2014 spending plan Monday night, leaving the U.S. to enter the new fiscal year in a government shutdown.
This shutdown, the first federal shutdown in 17 years, is the product of a stalemate between the Republican House and the Democratic Senate over the Affordable Care Act amendments on this year’s spending bill.
The government shutdown will require all federal employees deemed non-necessary to go on a furlough — a forced holiday without pay — and the effects could be felt at the local level.
Texas A&M System Chancellor John Sharp said the shutdown could spell bad news for any such employees at Texas A&M and in Bryan-College Station, depending on how long it lasts.
“How federal pause or shutdown impacts us is mostly a function of how long such an interruption [would] last,” Sharp said. “In the short term, we would not anticipate any significant disruption. If shutdown continues beyond several weeks into months, then we would have to reassess the situation, particularly in our research arenas.”
The shutdown could affect research by forcing University researchers with federal grants to place their experiments on hold — experiments that may be in critical stages and require timely attention.
University President R. Bowen Loftin issued a similar statement, and said that while he did not expect disruption from a short-term federal government shutdown, areas of the University and local services could face uncertainty in the case of a long-term shutdown.
“We do not expect a disruption in operations due to a federal government shutdown,” Loftin said. “From research projects, airport operations or federal
financial aid, University functions in the short time
period should not be affected. We are engaging with government officials regarding the situation because of possible uncertainty presented in a long-term shutdown.”
Students who work for the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum
will be immediately affected by the shutdown. They must be on a furlough with other federal employees of the library who are not deemed immediately necessary.
Jordan Meserole, director of communications for the Bryan-College Station Visitor’s Convention Bureau, said the Bush Library and Museum could be forced to close its doors due to being short staffed, potentially turning away a portion of the approximated 100,000 visitors it welcomes annually.
The closing of the library could indirectly affect local businesses, Meserole said.
“If people who are planning on visiting our area find out the Bush Library is closed, I could see them potentially changing their plans,” Meserole said. “If the visitors are not coming, then they are not eating in the restaurants, they are not staying in the hotel rooms, so in turn that’s also impacting our local economy.”
In past government shutdowns, like the 21-day long shutdown under President Clinton in 1995 and 1996, federal funding was frozen for anything deemed unnecessary. Passport processing was stopped, national museums and parks were closed, food stamps weren’t sent out, soldiers fought but didn’t get paid and the FDA was unable to monitor food or disease.
The U.S. mail service, Congress’ and the President’s pay and social security checks will be unaffected.
State funded services will still run, which limits the impact the shutdown will have on the Texas A&M campus.
Chelsea Downy, lead office assistant of the Study Abroad Office, said the Texas A&M Study Abroad Office would still be processing passports because they create enough revenue in the state to support their own production and distribution without federal funding.
Delisa Falks, executive director of scholarships and financial aid, said the repercussions of the shutdown in the Texas A&M Student Financial Aid Office will be slight, and students shouldn’t worry about getting the funding for their tuition.
Many student organizations and individuals expressed differing opinions on the government shutdown.
Publicity coordinator for the Aggie Democrats and junior philosophy major, Sam Taylor, said he thinks the government shutdown is detrimental and could have been avoided. He said the Republican Party is to blame for the shutdown.
“The American people want Obamacare as exhibited in their re-election of Obama,” Taylor said. “The most damning part of the shutdown for the Republican party is the fact that Obamacare will still be implemented in the shutdown, so this is all for naught. The Republican Party is acting childish, bringing hurt not only upon itself, but the on the nation as a whole.”
Marc Pitts, senior biochemistry major and member of Texas Aggie Conservatives, said he does not see what the major concerns about the government shutdown are and notes that most people probably won’t even notice it.
“I honestly don’t know why everyone is making such a big deal over the government shutdown,” Pitts said. “All essential personnel, such as our military and law enforcement agencies, will remain at work. We should think of it like an extended weekend. In reality, the vast majority of Americans won’t even notice.”
Political science professor Warren Dixon said the government should worry more about other national issues.
“We have had 17 government shutdowns within the last 30 years,” Dixon said. “I think Congress needs to focus more on the national debt issue coming up in mid-October.”
Cody Alejandro, junior psychology major and public relations officer of Aggies for Liberty, said as a Libertarian he was hoping for a government shutdown.