Did you hear? Did you feel it? Yesterday at 12:01 AM the government shutdown. Didn't know? You're not alone. It has been fairly muted since it is the weekend.
Turn on any news channel today and it is the talk of every anchor from Fox to CNN to MSNBC. So what actually IS a government shutdown? Here are some basics:
Why did it happen? On Friday evening, Congress failed to act on a short-term budget. No budget? No paychecks.
It is a bit of a political mess right now, but the main blame is being cast amongst Senate Democrats who refused to pass a bill without forward movement on their DACA agenda.
This is largely being spurred by what many are considering to be inaction on the part of Republicans. Congressional members spent the weekend scurrying around Capitol Hill trying to find a resolution before Monday.
Has it happened before? Yes. 18 times.
Who does it affect? At least 800,000 federal workers. Federal workers are paid by the federal government. Some government workers will be exempt. Workers will arrive Monday morning, as they usually would, to find out if they are subject to furloughs (exempt and will be working.)
Also paid by the government? Our troops. The military members will still be going to work they are just not paid automatically. Once Congress is back in session, they have to vote to pay them for their time worked. Each time this has happened, they have retroactively voted to pay, of course.
Can federal employees still work if they want? No. It is against the law for the government to accept any voluntary work. Even if government workers have a large project, they are prohibited from working. Seem silly? It is.
Are some federal agencies open? Yes. Some that are deemed essential. However, operations are usually quite scaled back.
How could this affect me? The big thing is if this lasts for more than 10 days, it will prevent the processing of tax refunds by the IRS. With this, you will receive those refunds later than usual.
Social security is still paid during a shutdown as it is mandated, not appropriated.
What about the stock market? During the last shutdown in 2013, the S&P 500 actually gained 3.1%. A new factor however, is that we are in the middle of earnings season. On Tuesday, more than 50 companies including Johnson & Johnson, Proctor & Gamble, State Street and Verizon are set to release.
The stock market relies on several federal agencies to function, most notably the Securities and Exchange Commission. From Business Insider, the Commodities Futures Trading Commission has contingency plans furloughing (allowing to work) all employees responsible for managing and stabilizing financial markets.
Isn't there a better way to get things done? One would think. John Dickerson posed this question to Minority Whip Dick Durbin this morning on Face the Nation. At the end of the day, this is taking a stance. The Democrats are tired that in their view, nothing is getting done on DACA.
They are simply holding out to get a resolution they deem acceptable. Choosing to force this into a shutdown situation appears to be dividing Congress and the President even more. "Open the government and we'll open negotiations" was the argument formerly used.
How Is This Different Than When Republicans Were to Blame in 2013? 2013 was the last time the government shutdown and in this case, it was the Republicans voting "nay" on the budget. However, they were voting NO solely on the budget. In 2013, the proposal included a large portion that was set to fund Obamacare. The Republicans, of course, disagreed with this policy and therefore rejected the budget.
Enter the 2018 shutdown. Democrats are actually in agreement with the budget. They are simply voting to not pass it based on an (arguably) unrelated agenda.