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Government shutdown: everything you should know

» By LAUREN COTTLE

Staff Writer

The recent government shutdown has many citizens, including students, military, veterans and federal workers, watchful of its effects.

The government shutdown began Tuesday, Oct. 1, after a congressional argument over whether or not the Affordable Care Act “Obamacare” should be defunded or delayed.

Federal workers have been expected to see brunt of the impact as a result of many employees being furloughed, or laid off, in order of importance. “Nonessential” workers were the first ones to be furloughed.

On Saturday, Oct 5 the House passed a bill for these workers to receive back pay once they return to work. The Senate is expected to hold a session to vote upon the bill to either pass or kill it.

According to NPR’s Bill Chappell, “The back-pay bill is one of several piecemeal funding measures the House has taken up since the shutdown began.”

Other funding has gone to “veterans’ benefits, nutrition assistance for low-income women and children and emergency and disaster recovery,” according to C-SPAN.

“Most APSU students aren’t going to see an impact with regards to funding,” said Matthew Kenney, APSU political science professor and PELP director.

Kenney said students “will be affected outside of the university.” This includes using government programs such as the Peace Corps or the National Science Foundation. Websites for these and other government programs are down.

Political science professor Mike Gruszczynski said, “The shutdown is very much affecting students.”

Gruszczynski said, “active duty military personnel [will] be paid” as a result of a bill passed, but that this doesn’t apply to “those who are not on active duty.”

Furthermore, VA and GI Bill benefit funding “is in question if the shutdown lasts more than a couple of weeks,” Gruszczynski said.

“For non-military students, dealing with federally guaranteed student loans could get a bit messy in the spring semester should the shutdown continue.”

The U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs released a field guide to the government shutdown, describing which services will and will not be affected.

According to the guide, “all VA medical facilities and clinics will remain fully operational.”

The guide also states “claims processing and payments in the compensation, pension, education and vocational rehabilitation programs are anticipated to continue through late October.”

If the government shutdown is prolonged past late October, these programs will be “suspended when available funding is exhausted.”

Some VA services that have been immediately affected are Freedom of Information Act queries, outreach and public awareness activities and recruiting and hiring of veteran job applicants.

Citizens can see the impact of the government shutdown visiting national parks, obtaining a passport or gun permit and contacting the IRS, since these are all “nonessential” services funded by the federal government.

According to junior computer science major Donald Buhl-Brown, “people are over-exaggerating” the government shutdown.

“It will only affect students if they or their parents are federal workers,” Buhl-Brown said. “There are more pressing issues, like the debt ceiling.”

From an economic standpoint, Gruszczynski said, “If the U.S. is going to continue being the central player in the world economy, it cannot throw the economy back into the dark ages every time a political fight occurs. One of the main Constitutional obligations of Congress is to fund a government, and they are failing at that obligation big time right now.”

Kenney said the shutdown highlights an “ideological divide” between the two sides of the country. Kenney also said the Tea Party is “so vocal” and “so powerful” that “moderates feel as if they have been taken hostage.”

Similarly, Gruszczynski said the shutdown “sets a bad precedent about what a minority party can do in Congress with regards to laws they don’t like. This isn’t to say minority parties should have no say in any matters. But this an extreme use of these checks that put a whole lot more than a law on the line.”

Kenney said he thinks politicians should “respect the processes we have” with regards to the passing of bills.

Since some members of the Republican party want to defund the Affordable Care Act after it has been passed, Kenney believes this might “undermine the rule of law.”

In a democracy, politicians and citizens must compromise, Kenney said, since “you rarely get exactly what you want.”

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