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Government Government shutdown: What you need to know

Government shutdown: What you need to know

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Robert Francis
Robert is a Fort Worth native and longtime editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a former president of the local Society of Professional Journalists and was a freelancer for a variety of newspapers, weeklies and magazines, including American Way, BrandWeek and InformatonWeek. A graduate of TCU, Robert has held a variety of writing and editing positions at publications such as the Grand Prairie Daily News and InfoWorld. He is also a musician and playwright.

 

Holly Yan

CNN

(CNN) — Let’s start with the obvious question: Will there be a government shutdown this week? Probably.

On that, Republicans and Democrats agree. It’s everything else that has them bickering and blaming. And unless they strike a deal on a spending bill Monday, the government will begin shutting down at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday.

After weeks of congressional back-and-forth, the ball is back in the Senate’s court. It meets at 2 p.m. Monday to decide what to do next.

The outcome, while likely, isn’t a foregone conclusion. The deadline is midnight, and one day can be a long time on Capitol Hill.

Here’s a quick Q&A to get you caught up on what happened over the weekend and what to look forward to Monday.

Why would the government shut down?

Congress has one key duty laid out in the Constitution — pass spending bills that fund the government. If it doesn’t, most of the functions of the government — from paying the military, to funding small business loans, to processing Social Security checks — would grind to a slow-motion halt.

What’s the holdup?

House Republicans insist the spending bill include anti-Obamacare amendments. Senate Democrats are just as resolute that it doesn’t.

How’s Obamacare tied to funding the government?

It isn’t. But it’s being used as a bargaining chip. A group of Republicans, led by freshman Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, despises the president’s signature health care plan so much that it is willing to risk government shutdown or default.

What’s their objection?

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the actual name of the law, requires all Americans to have health insurance. Opponents say it’ll hurt employers, and it amounts to overreach by the federal government. Some have also criticized the medical device tax that’s part of the law, saying by imposing such a tax, it’s basically sending jobs overseas.

What’s the Democrats’ defense?

Democrats say Obamacare protects those with pre-existing medical conditions from being denied health insurance. They also say it brings costs down because those who have health insurance will no longer have to indirectly pay for those who show up in emergency rooms uninsured.

So, what happened with the spending bill over the weekend?

The Republican-dominated House passed two spending bill amendments Sunday morning — one that would delay Obamacare for a year, and one that would repeal the Obamacare’s medical device tax. The bill now goes back to the Senate, where Democrats who control that chamber have consistently said any changes to Obamacare would be a deal-killer.

What happens Monday?

The Senate will take a simple-majority vote to table the parts of the House bill with that the Senate Democratic majority disagrees with, a Senate Democratic leadership aide said. After that, the Senate plans to send its version of the bill — one without any changes to Obamacare — back to the House. So the political hot potato will likely continue.

And if nothing changes, does the government shuts down?

Yes. But not all at once. Starting Tuesday morning, park rangers would start locking up national parks. Most furloughed federal workers are supposed to be out of their offices within four hours of the start of business Tuesday.

But don’t expect a complete halt. Most of the 3.3 million government workers are deemed “essential” or “excepted.” So the mail will continue to come. The military will continue to fight. And Social Security Check will continue to be paid.

How many government workers could be furloughed?

More than 783,000 government employees, according to a CNN analysis of contingency plans published by the federal government on Friday. Not all government agencies submitted contingency plans.

And will this kill Obamacare?

It probably wouldn’t. Most of the money for Obamacare comes from new taxes and fees, as well as from cost cuts to other programs like Medicare and other types of funding that would continue even if the government shuts down.

Is there any hope if a deal isn’t struck by midnight?

If lawmakers reach an agreement by late Monday night, but the funding bill hasn’t made it to the president’s desk, the government can ignore a short lapse in funding and carry on in good faith knowing that it will. The last time that happened was April 2011.

CNN’s Leigh Ann Caldwell, Z. Byron Wolf, Adam Aigner-Treworgy, Laura Koran, Lisa Desjardins and Bryan Monroe contributed to this report.


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