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The Student Prints

The Student Prints

Current Events for Dummies: The Government Shutdown

Everyone has probably heard about the recent government shutdown, whether on the news, Twitter, or in social studies class. However, there is definitely some confusion circulating about what having a “shutdown” actually means.


Republicans and Democrats in Congress were unable to reach an agreement on a new spending bill by the deadline on October 1. Republicans control the House of Representatives and Democrats control the Senate, which contributed to the deadlock. Democrats are mostly in favor of Obamacare, while Republicans generally are not. The government “shutdown” on October 1, which meant that 800,000 government employees deemed “unnecessary” were “furloughed,” or told to stay home. They were not paid right away for the time they missed, but have since been recompensed. Congress was able to pass a temporary law to raise the debt ceiling, end the shutdown, and prevent America from defaulting on our loans (if only for a little while).


Shutdown: The government was unable to reach an agreement on a spending bill, so all government programs and agencies deemed unimportant were closed until a deal was reached.

Debt Ceiling: The government’s self-imposed $16.699 trillion “credit card.” America was in danger of defaulting on its loans, that is to say surpassing the spending limit and running out of money, but Congress voted to raise the ceiling.

Obamacare: Officially known as The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act introduced by Obama, it will require every American to have health insurance. There are several pieces to this legislation, and not everyone agrees with them all. This law isn’t directly tied to the shutdown, but was used as somewhat of a bargaining chip between parties during the debate over the spending bill. Republicans wanted it removed or at least pared down, and Democrats were unwilling to budge.


  • President Obama was still paid his $400,000 salary during the shutdown because it was considered “mandatory” spending.
  • All Congressmen and women were paid their salaries as well (a minimum of $179,000.)
  • The shutdown lasted 17 days.
  • When it was all said and done, the economy was estimated to have lost $24 billion as a result of the shutdown.


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