Government Shutdown Ends

Liam Sullivan

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The shutdown of the federal government ended around midnight on Oct. 16 after a long congressional stalemate regarding the fledgling Affordable Care Act. The shutdown, which lasted 16 days, ended after Congress reached an agreement on government funding and raised the debt limit through January. The deal was largely a defeat for congressional Republicans as they failed to achieve their goals of defunding the Affordable Care Act via the shutdown.

The Continuing Appropriation Act passed through congress just before midnight on October 16th. The bill passed 81 to 18 in the Senate and 285 to 144 in the House of Representatives. President Obama signed the bill at 12:30 AM The government began the process of reopening almost immediately and the 800,000 furloughed government employees will resume work shortly.

The government reopened just before the deadline to raise the national debt limit. Failure to raise the debt limit could have resulted in a major financial crisis. The debt limit is the greatest amount of money that can be borrowed by the government to meet its existing legal obligations such as, Social Security, Medicare, and more. A failure to raise the debt limit would also have caused the interest rates on borrowed money to drastically increase and could have caused a collapse in the stock market. A study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office showed that delays in raising the debt limit in 2011 cost approximately 1.3 billion dollars in taxpayer money. Congress agreed to extend the debt limit through Jan. 2014 avoiding a potentially disastrous economic crisis.

“We know that the American people’s frustration with what goes on in this town has never been higher,” said President Obama in an address regarding the end of the shutdown. President Obama said that the government needs to “stop governing by crisis.” He said that the shutdown was unnecessary and damaging to the nation referencing the fact that global credit rating agency Fitch has placed the United States on a negative business watch citing “political brinkmanship.” The President emphasized the fact that the end of the shutdown was not a partisan victory.

Despite what the President says, most consider this to be, politically, a victory for the Democrats. The deal between congressional Republicans and Democrats was made almost entirely on the terms of the Democrats. The Republican party is being held largely responsible for manufacturing and protracting the crisis. The political radicalism of Tea Party Republicans has caused divides within the party, which has been more unified than the Democratic party in recent years.

Regardless of political victory, the shutdown of the federal government has been bad for the nation as a whole. The shutdown will likely cost billions of taxpayer dollars and the interest rates which the government pays on borrowed money will likely increase. However, the end of the shutdown through the passing of the Continuing Appropriations Act brought only a temporary resolution to the problems and it remains to be seen whether or not congress has learned from its mistakes.

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