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Government Shutdown: 5 Questions And Answers

Syuzanna Petrosyan |
September 30, 2013 | 9:43 a.m. PDT

Executive Producer

(Creative Commons)
(Creative Commons)
It is only hours before funding for the government is scheduled to run out. Under the Constitution, the government must pass laws to spend money. if the Congress and president cannot agree on the spending bill, the government does not have the legal authority to spend money.

Every shutdown is surrounded by different politics and as is usually the case, much of what will happen is unknown. So, here are some questions we can answer. 

Let's start with the basics. 

1. Will a shutdown actually take place?

The 2013 fiscal year ends at midnight Monday and differences between Democrats and Republicans have been deepening over virtually every issue, most importantly federal spending. Unless a deal is reached by midnight tonight or a temporary spending measure is set up, the government will be due to shut down. Overall: we seem to be in a limbo.

2. What is the main cause of the shutdown?

In a nutshell, the Republican-controlled House has passed a spending bill, which, although maintains spending levels, does not provide funding to implement the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. The Democratic Senate insists that the program be fully funded. 

3. How long will a shutdown last?

Some shutdowns have lasted only half a day. Most have lasted no more than three days. The longest and most recent shutdown lasted 21 (Dec. 16, 1995, through Jan. 5, 1996). 

4. Will federal employees be working during the shutdown? 

Yes and no. It is estimated that between 800,00 and 1 million employees out of 2.1 million would be put on temporary unpaid leave. Each government agency is responsible for coming up with its own plan based on a guidance. Those plans are then sent to the White House for review. Political appointees will not discontinue work because they cannot be placed on leave by law. Employees necessary for the president to carry out his institutional responsibilities are also exempt. 

5. Who is to blame for the shutdown?

With just hours before a possible shutdown, there is plenty of blame to go around. A CNN/ORC International poll released Monday morning indicates that most Americans think Republicans in Congress are "acting like spoiled children in this fiscal fight" while a bit less than half described Obama as a spoiled child. 


Reach Executive Producer Syuzanna Petrosyan hereFollow her on Twitter. 



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