By McKenzie Wedel and Lauren Sawyer
The United States government has shut down for the first time in 17 years. Government officials began warning agencies of the pending shutdown just before midnight when it became clear the Senate and House of Representatives could not come to an agreement regarding government spending and Obamacare. The debate regarding the congressional budget has been an ongoing issue. The Senate would send a proposal to the House Republicans only for each proposal to get turned down.
According to the AP Exchange, Majority Leader Harry Reid stated that when the Senate meets again today, it will once again reject the stopgap measure that includes a House Republican effort to change the healthcare law. This inability to reach a compromise on the budget will cause a ripple effect across the nation in regards to federal employees and their wages.
According to CNN.com, over 800,000 people will no longer be paid starting today, costing the economy about one billion dollars per week for the duration of this shutdown. Members of the military will still receive a paycheck, in accordance with the bill President Obama signed into law just two hours before the shutdown. Military veterans, however, could face delays or even losses. Congress’s paychecks are safe. The 27th Amendment prevents Congress from changing their own pay, which also ensures their continued paychecks during government shutdowns. There is no concrete estimate at this time as to how long this shutdown may last.
For now, all National Parks and Monuments are closed. Tourist attractions, such as the Statue of Liberty, have also been shut down. Tens of thousands of national park employees will be furloughed. Those camping in federally-funded reserves like the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone have 48 hours to evacuate the campsites. The Smithsonian museums are also closed. According to ABC News, the Food and Drug Administration will no longer be able to conduct food safety inspections.
The government shutdown will not immediately affect the operations of Hastings College, although local, federally-funded programs may experience budget concerns or closures. Matt Fong, HC chief of staff, said that the college’s operations are scheduled to run without any changes due to the shutdown.
“The on-campus institutional impact should be minimal,” Fong said. “Seeing that HC is a private college, we receive no financial assistance from the US Government.”
According to Fong, if the shutdown persists for several months, students receiving federal loan money, like from Pell Grants or Stafford Loans, could be affected. HC Media was not able to contact a representative from the financial aid department today.
Dr. Robert Amyot, professor of political science, said that an end to the shutdown is challenging to predict, as Congress itself has become unpredictable. Amyot anticipates that a shutdown of less than two weeks will be bearable for the economy and Hastings College. However, if it persists through October, he isn’t so sure.
“We could be looking at a very different world at the end of the semester,” Amyot said. “We could be looking at a good number of our students deciding not to come back because their parents don’t have a job or are on the cusp of losing their jobs. And if the debt ceiling is increased, but the government continues to be shut down, come February, things could be pretty tight for [Hastings College] because we won’t be getting our money from the student loan administration.”