The U.S. government has shut down. Now what? Progress Illinois takes a look at how we got here and what could happen over the next several hours and days as leaders in the House and Senate refuse to give in to the other's demands.
After the U.S. House once again failed to pass the Senate's continuing resolution stripping language that delays the Affordable Care Act this evening and the two chambers remain at a stalemate, the U.S. government has shut down for the first time in 17 years.
Shortly before midnight, the Obama administration's budget director released a memo from the Office of Budget and Management directing federal agencies on how to proceed in light of the impending shutdown.
“Unfortunately, we do not have a clear indication that Congress will act in time for the president to sign a continuing resolution before the end of the day tomorrow, October 1, 2013,” the note stated. “Therefore, agencies should now execute plans for an orderly shutdown due to the absence of appropriations.”
As a result of the shutdown, national parks and museums will be closed Tuesday and thousands of federal government workers will not report to work and will instead be furloughed.
Earlier this evening, the President signed a bill passed by Congress in the last several days that will continue funding the salaries of members of the nation's armed forces in the event of a government shutdown. The President also released a video to the troops thanking them for their service, letting them know that they will still receive pay, and telling the servicemembers "if you are in harm's way, we are going to make sure that you have what you need to succeed in your missions."
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said the Senate will not relent to conservatives who refuse to pass a continuing resolution (C.R.) that does not delay or defund Obamacare.
“We are not going to mess around with ObamaCare, no matter what they do,” Reid said. “They should get a life ... It is the law, declared constitutional. The exchanges are coming on board tomorrow.”
Meanwhile on the House floor, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH,8) took a crack at the president Monday evening.
“I’m not going to negotiate. I’m not going to negotiate. We’re not going to do this,” Boehner said imitating President Barack Obama. “Well, I would say to the president, ‘This is not about me ... And it’s not about Republicans here in Congress. It’s about fairness for the American people.”
Shutting down the government will cost approximately $150 million a day. When the government shutdown for 27 days during the Clinton administration in late 1995 through the start of 1996, the cost reached a whopping $2 billion in today's money. Even the U.S. Chamber of Commerce urged congressmen to avoid a government shutdown earlier in the day Monday, arguing that it is not the best approach to addressing conservative concerns. The chamber sent a letter to lawmakers stating that although they understand the need to reduce government spending, a government shutdown is not the answer.
"With the U.S. economy continuing to underperform, the federal government needs to maintain its normal operations pending a successful outcome of broader budgetary reforms," the letter read. "It is not in the best interest of the employers, employees or the American people to risk a government shutdown that will be economically disruptive and create even more uncertainties for the U.S. economy."
After the government shutdown, Reid said he will not negotiate with the House or go into a conference committee unless a clean continuing resolution is passed by the GOP-led House. Meanwhile, the House is still looking to vote on yet another C.R. tonight and is looking to go into conference committee with the Senate, despite Reid's hard line on the matter.
"Six months ago, we called the bluff of the Republicans and the Senate passed a budget and the Republicans have failed for six months to appoint a conference committee," U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL,9) told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow. "At this moment, 17, 18 minutes after the government has already shut down, now they are saying they want to go into conference. For what? I mean, if we don't have some sort of assurance that the government is going to stay open, it absolutely makes no sense. Harry Reid, for better or for worse, said we're not going to have a conference with a gun pointed at our heads. And so that's simply not going to happen. The thing that's breaking my heart is that this is completely unnecessary."
Just before midnight, the White House Deputy Senior Advisor David Simas sent out an email admonishing Republicans for the impact a shutdown could have on the U.S. economy:
If the United States government shuts down tonight and our economy takes a hit, it will be because House Republicans let it happen.
Right now, there's a bill sitting in the House that funds the government for a few more weeks. It doesn't demand the repeal or delay of the health care law, or deny women access to birth control, or include any other failed, partisan proposals. It funds the government. That's it. And if Republican leadership allowed a simple yes or no vote on this bill -- like the Senate has -- it would get enough support from members of both parties to pass.
Instead, the government that these Republicans were elected to fund will close down and that will hurt our economy. Americans across the country won't be allowed to show up for work. Paychecks could be delayed, meaning some folks will have to cut back on groceries or maybe even not pay a few bills. Businesses will have fewer customers. Veterans won't get services they rely on -- and it will put benefits for seniors at risk.
Schakowsky also lamented on the negative impact the shutdown will likely have on the nation's economic recovery — noting that many of the congressmen who are championing the shutdown have little to no experience and do not have knowledge of the ramifications of the shutdown Republicans forced into existence during the Clinton administration 17 years ago.
"The people that are driving this shutdown are people who don't have any institutional memory and many of them actually have no legislative experience whatsoever [or] legislative memory," the congresswoman said. "So they came here on a mission, which was to shutdown the government. A couple of them bragged about it early on. ... This is a moment when our economy could actually be leaping forward. We are at a point where we could be creating jobs. We could be in a great position right now, and instead we're going to be seeing, I think, really tragic consequences in terms of the economy and individual American families."
U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly (D-IL,2) made note of what she believes is the true catalyst behind the government shutdown — and she doesn't believe it is all about Obamacare.
“Today, due to the irresponsible tactics of House Republicans, the federal government has shut down for the first time in 17 years. Let’s be clear: This shutdown is not about the Affordable Care Act. It’s about a faction of the Republican Party putting their extremist ideology ahead of the best interests of the American people,” Kelly said in a statement. “The shutdown will be devastating to our country’s fragile economic recovery. Millions of Americans will be left in limbo – federal employees who will be furloughed, veterans who will see their disability payments disrupted and small business owners whose loan applications will be delayed. These are the very real consequences of partisan game playing. We cannot and should not govern by ultimatum. Congress owes it to the American people to immediately pass a bi-partisan spending plan to re-open the government.”
Reaction to news of the government shutdown has been swift. The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee's executive director, Michael Sargeant, released the following statement blasting Tea Party conservatives for their role in shutting down the federal government:
This shutdown is a direct result of Tea Party Republicans in state legislatures drawing Congressional district lines that shielded Republicans in the House from the desires of American voters. In 2012 Democrats running for Congress received nearly 1.4 million more votes than Republican candidates did. Voters agreed with Democratic priorities and values, but Republicans in state legislatures were able to subvert democracy and install radical Republicans in power.
While House Republicans continue to rail against the Affordable Care Act, Americans are benefiting from Democratic legislatures successfully implementing the law by expanding Medicaid coverage so working people can have greater access to health insurance options. Democratic legislatures have also established health care exchanges where their constituents can learn if they are eligible for health insurance at lower costs based on their income, compare their coverage options side-by-side, and enroll in health insurance coverage.
Meanwhile, Republican legislators are encouraging House Republicans to continue this dangerous strategy that will ultimately harm both people and businesses, and undermine the economy in their states.
U.S. Rep. Bill Foster (D-IL,11) also spoke out against the budgetary stalemate.
“The hardworking people of the 11th Congressional District are tired of this kind of brinksmanship, and so am I. It’s time to end the political grandstanding and get to work to reach an agreement," Foster said in a statement following the shutdown.
“We have many important issues to tackle – unemployment among the middle class remains unacceptably high, our broken immigration system is in desperate need of reform and thousands of Americans still face home foreclosure every day. But we can’t address any of these important issues when we are on the verge of government shutdown and default and continue to govern from one crisis to the next.”
Politicos say Republicans are taking a great risk in pushing the government to a shutdown, adding that the GOP could feel the pain in the midterm elections if Americans blame them for the furloughs, withheld paychecks for government workers, cuts to services, and shuttered national parks and monuments that come as a result of the government's partial closure. According to The House Majority Pac, an organization focused on "holding Republicans accountable and helping Democrats wins seats" in the chamber, U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL,13) may be one of the lawmakers from Illinois to feel some pushback for his votes to defund and delay Obamacare.
“Rodney Davis's push to hold the government hostage to his extreme demands is pathetic, embarrassing, harmful and wrong. Davis's sustained effort to shut down the government is not something voters will forget,” warned House Majority PAC Executive Director Alixandria Lapp in a statement. (Read more about how the goverment shutdown will affect federal agencies and services here.)
Nonetheless, Republicans continue to argue that the government shutdown is not their fault, instead blaming Democrats for failing to capitulate to their ongoing attempts to delay or defund Obamacare.
"When Obamacare was enacted, it was without a single Republican supporting it. Now, Harry Reid has decided that rather than let the Republican-controlled House of Representatives have any say at all in the implementation of Obamacare, he would prefer to just shut down the government. To Reid and Obama, the House is nothing more than a rubber stamp for their edicts," said president of American for Limited Government Nathan Mehrens in a statement. "Now the House must stand firm and remind the Senate and White House that Congress still has the power of the purse, and that this is not one-party rule. The House is not a rubber stamp."
But there is more than enough evidence dating back to 2010 that shows Republicans, particularly Tea Partiers who were voted into office during the 2010 midterm elections, have been planning a government shutdown for quite some time, making this far more than just a disagreement about the implementation of Obamacare. Even Illinois Tea Party politicians were singing the rally cry years ago.
"This is an unusual freshman class. Many of them feel like I do. We will do what we have to do, to shut down the government if we have to, to choke Obamacare if we have to. Look, we all came here for real serious reasons. We didn’t come here to get along. I think you’re going to see the Republican Party moving in that direction," said then-U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh of Illinois back in February 2011 outside of a Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) meeting.
"I gotta tell ya most people in my district say 'shut it down'," said Walsh during an appearance on Fox News later that same month. "This country very well may need some sort of shock therapy because we've got to do something. We are broke. And I guess what I am telling you is, this is still how this freshman class feels."
The Senate has adjourned until 9:30 a.m. after all lawmakers who were still in the chamber after midnight, including U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), spoke. Reid gave each lawmaker five minutes to speak after the government shutdown began. The House is still in session and will likely vote on another C.R. calling for the same provisions on Obamacare in exchange for goverment funding before the night is out.
UPDATE: Upon leaving the House floor after the government shutdown began, Boehner held a lightening-fast press conference during which he once again requested a conference with the Senate. He did not, however, answer a question directly asking whether he would allow the chamber to vote on a clean C.R.
"We are hoping that the Senate will take our offer to go to conference and let us resolve our differences," Boehner said in response to the question, which was one of only two that he took during the presser. See video of the 73-second press conference here.
Image: AP Photo/Evan Vucci