Washington, Oct 1 (PTI): The US government today shut down the first time since 1995-96 – as the Republican and the Democrats failed to reach an agreement on spending and budget mainly due to their differences over the healthcare reforms, which is popular as Obamacare.
With neither side blinking, despite last minute hectic efforts from both side, the White House immediately ordered the federal government agencies to begin shutting down, furloughing thousands of workers and curtailing some services for the first time in nearly 18 years.
“Congress has not fulfilled its responsibility. It has failed to pass a budget and, as a result, much of our government must now shut down until Congress funds it again,” Obama said in a video message to the armed services shortly after the shutdown came into effect.
“The threats to our national security have not changed, and we need you to be ready for any contingency. Ongoing military operations like our efforts in Afghanistan will continue. If you’re serving in harm’s way, we’re going to make sure you have what you need to succeed in your missions,” he said.
“Congress has passed, and I am signing into law, legislation to make sure you get your paychecks on time. And we’ll continue working to address any impact this shutdown has on you and your families,” Obama said.
Agencies should now execute plans for an orderly shutdown due to the absence of appropriations, the Office of Management and Budget Director Sylvia Mathews Burwell said her a guidance to the agencies directing them to execute their plans for an orderly shutdown of the Federal government.
“We urge Congress to act quickly to pass a Continuing Resolution to provide a short-term bridge that ensures sufficient time to pass a budget for the remainder of the fiscal year, and to restore the operation of critical public services and programs that will be impacted by a lapse in appropriations,” the guidance said.
Shutdown, the first in 18 years, means that national parks will close, most routine food inspections will be suspended, paperwork will slow at government offices and many federal employees will be furloughed.
Only emergency and essential items would be able to operate, as a result of which lakhs of government employees would not receive their salary for the duration of the government shutdown.
Senator Ben Cardin alleged that the Republicans have manufactured a crisis that will cost taxpayers even more money while inconveniencing, if not harming, individuals, families and businesses across the country.
Earlier, Obama said as a result of the government shut down, office buildings would be closed.
“Paychecks would be delayed. Vital services that seniors and veterans, women and children, businesses and our economy depend on would be hamstrung,” he said.
“Business owners would see delays in raising capital, seeking infrastructure permits, or rebuilding after Hurricane Sandy. Veterans who’ve sacrificed for their country will find their support centers unstaffed,” he said.
“Tourists will find every one of America’s national parks and monuments, from Yosemite to the Smithsonian to the Statue of Liberty, immediately closed. And of course, the communities and small businesses that rely on these national treasures for their livelihoods will be out of customers and out of luck,” he added.
Noting that more than two million civilian workers and 1.4 million active-duty military serve in all 50 states and all around the world, Obama said because of government shutdown, hundreds of thousands of these dedicated public servants who stay on the job will do so without pay – and several hundred thousand more will be immediately and indefinitely furloughed without pay.
“A shutdown will have a very real economic impact on real people, right away. Past shutdowns have disrupted the economy significantly. This one would, too. It would throw a wrench into the gears of our economy at a time when those gears have gained some traction,” he said.