Rev. Dr. Karen Adrien Osbey Atkins, PhD
We need to put on our thinking caps in order to avoid a government shutdown again.
Remember The United States Federal Government Shutdown Of 1995 and 1996.
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The United States federal government
shutdown of 1995 and 1996 was the result of conflicts between Democratic President Bill Clinton and the Congress over funding for Medicare, education, the environment, and public health in the 1996 federal budget.
The government shut down after Clinton vetoed the spending bill the Republican Party-controlled Congress sent him.
The federal government of the United States put non-essential government workers on furlough and suspended non-essential services from November 14 through November 19, 1995 and from December 16, 1995 to January 6, 1996, for a total of 28 days. The major players were President Clinton and Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Newt Gingrich.
Experts agree: A federal government shutdown would be a dumb way to go. The House on Friday will vote on a short-term government funding bill that will include a provision to defund Obamacare.
That provision is a no-go for Senate Democrats and President Obama.
If they can't work out a compromise, many functions of the federal government will be shut down indefinitely on Oct. 1.
Besides causing inconvenience and delays, a shutdown could have larger consequences.
A long, broad shutdown could weaken an already modest economic recovery, Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf said Wednesday.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, meanwhile, noted that "a government shutdown and, perhaps even more so, a failure to raise the debt limit could have very serious consequences for the financial markets and for the economy."
To say nothing of the fact that a shutdown wouldn't come cheap. Federal agencies have to use up time, energy and resources to plan for one. Shutting down, and then reopening the government, also costs money.
Two shutdowns in the mid-1990s cost an estimated $1.4 billion, according to the Congressional Research Service.
There's no telling exactly what a shutdown this October would look like because the White House has some discretion in terms of what's hit and what's not. But based on the shutdowns in the mid-1990s, the following is a pretty good bet.
What will be closed for business: Many, if not most, federal government offices, programs, museums and parks would be shuttered.
So if the shutdown lasts awhile, the travel industry could take a hit as vacations and business trips are scuttled -- whether because people can't get a visa or passport or because they have to cancel their plans to visit Yosemite.
For federal contractors, projects may be delayed because the agencies they work for can't issue the paperwork needed to move forward.
And Americans who need something from a federal office affected by the shutdown may be out of luck. [mehr]