On October 16, 2013, the government of the United States of America reopened after experiencing its first government shutdown in almost 18 years. The shutdown, which began on October 1, was caused primarily by the Republican majority in the House of Representatives refusing to pass a bill to raise the debt ceiling unless the bill’s Obamacare provision was defunded. Postal services, military services and social security services were not affected by the government shutdown. However, education, health agencies and foreign travel have suffered from extensive budget cuts and layoffs during the past 16 days.
Nationwide Head Start programs, which manage government-funded preschools providing early education for 3 and 4 year olds, were also affected by the shutdown. According to the Kent State University radio station, “Barbara Haxton,” part of the Ohio Head Start Association, said “If those agencies close…staff will be laid off…and programs will be shut down.” There will be approximately 19,000 students who will be denied enrollment in Head Start programs in 2013, according to the National Public Radio Organization.
Also, research grants, requested from both state and federal governments by scientists to fund their research, have not been approved by the federal government these past few weeks. Scientists have had to either cut or postpone any further research, delaying the possibility for groundbreaking discoveries.
Many federal regulatory organizations, such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Center for Disease Control (CDC), shut down for those 16 days as well. The FDA is responsible for checking the quality of medications and food products. Without the FDA, meat and fish products across the nation may contain certain diseases. Currently, there is a salmonella outbreak nationwide, and without the CDC to investigate and control the spread, the public’s health is threatened.
In addition, expected travel for the 2013 holidays has been affected by the government shutdown. Certain travel essentials, like passports or visas, were not processed during the shutdown. People who already had a passport or visa were allowed to travel outside of the country, but people currently without a passport or a visa were not able to apply or reapply for a new one until the government reopened. The shutdown mainly impacted citizens traveling for work and families traveling out of the country. Additionally, foreigners trying to get into the United States were not allowed to apply for a visa.
Now that the government has reopened, federal services will slowly be reestablished and attempt to recover the financial losses they have suffered during the shutdown.
By MONICA LAFERLA