Amid government shutdown, US judiciary vows to remain open for now
MOSCOW, October 1 (RAPSI, Ingrid Burke) - As the US government begins to shut down in the aftermath of Congress’ failure to reach a compromise that would enable it to pass a budget, the federal judiciary is set to remain functional for at least ten business days, according to an anticipatory statement released late last week.
“In the event of a government shutdown on October 1, 2013, the federal Judiciary will remain open for business for approximately 10 business days. On or around October 15, 2013, the Judiciary will reassess its situation and provide further guidance,” the federal judiciary announced on Thursday through the US Courts’ official news outlet The Third Branch News.
On September 30, Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget Sylvia Burwell released a memo to the heads of the executive departments and agencies announcing, “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. Therefore, agencies should now execute plans for an orderly shutdown due to the absence of appropriations.”
The White House published an information sheet on the consequences to be expected in the case of a government shutdown. According to the sheet, the shutdown would prove particularly detrimental to the economy and vulnerable US citizens, including seniors, veterans, children, and workers.
With regard to the economy, the information sheet asserts: “A one-week shutdown could cost our economy about $10 billion.” If further claims that services providing 2.5 million seniors with healthy meals would lose funding, veterans pension and education benefits would suffer cuts, mothers and young children would lose nutrition assistance, and “[h]undreds of thousands of workers would be immediately and indefinitely furloughed without pay.”
Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter decried the potential shutdown as “stupid” in a statement Monday, explaining: “a shutdown will be disruptive and harmful to the national security mission. We strongly urge the Congress to pass a budget and avoid a disruptive and stupid shutdown of the federal government.”
Notably, US President Barrack Obama signed into law on Monday the “Pay Our Military Act,” which provides for continued appropriations for pay and allowances for active service members and for particular civilian Department of Defense (DOD) and Homeland Security (Coast Guard) personnel and contractors, in cases where the secretaries of those departments determine that such civilian personnel provide support to service members.
Both parties are blaming each other for the shutdown, and the White House is blaming Congress. At the time of writing, the front page of the official White House website is dominated by the following message: “Because Congress did not fulfill its responsibility to pass a budget, much of the federal government will shut down.”
At the core of the dispute is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Popularly known as Obamacare, the legislation – enacted in March 2010 – essentially aims to make quality healthcare coverage affordable for US citizens. Depending on who you ask, the bill represents either great hope or a massive failure.
US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid issued a statement Monday summarizing the ideological dispute as follows: “[Republicans] want to force more than 25 million families to once again rely on crowded, expensive emergency rooms or go without the life-saving care they need… Unless Democrats agree to all their demands – unless we agree to strip tens of millions of Americans of their health insurance and force tens of millions more to live in fear – they will shut down the government.”
On the other side of the aisle, US Senator for Texas Ted Cruz described the legislation as follows during a marathon 21-hour speech last week: “My plea to this body is that we listen to the American people, because if we listen to our constituents, the answer is we need to defund this bill that isn't working, that's hurting the American people, that's killing jobs, that's forcing people into part-time work, that's driving up health insurance premiums and that's causing millions to lose or fear that they will lose their health insurance.”
Meanwhile, both Reid and Cruz blamed the opposite side for having allowed the failure to see eye to eye go so far as to result in a government shutdown.
Reid’s statement lambasted the Republicans in the House of Representatives, explaining that they, “did what we all feared they would do: they voted to shut down the government… House Republicans voted to hold the government hostage until Democrats agree to return to the days when insurance companies put profit margins before patient care.”
Cruz meanwhile issued a statement Monday placing the blame squarely on Reid’s shoulders, claiming: “Harry Reid should not force a government shutdown. I hope that Reid stops refusing to negotiate and works with the House to avoid a government shutdown, and, at the same time, prevent the enormous harms that Obamacare is inflicting on the American people.” Cruz then proceeded to vow to donate his salary to charity in the case that “Harry Reid forces a government shutdown.”
Back in the White House, Obama had the following to say on the dispute during a statement issued Monday: “You don’t get to extract a ransom for doing your job; for doing what you’re supposed to be doing anyway; or just because there’s a law there that you don’t like.”