Is the government open? No, but yes. Here are a few quick answers to the questions we're sure you're asking:
1. Why did the government shutdown?
"Congress has one key duty in the Constitution -- pass spending bills that fund the government.
If it doesn't, most functions of government grind to a halt. But some services, like Social Security, air traffic control and active military pay, will continue to be funded. Oh, and Congress still gets paid, too." -CNN
2. But why couldn't Congress pass a spending bill?
"The Republican-controlled House has passed a spending bill that maintains spending levels but does not provide funding to implement the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. The Democratic Senate insists that the program be fully funded and that Congress pass what they call a "clean" CR - a continuing resolution without policy changes" -USA Today
3. Has the government shutdown before?
"Government shutdowns were once a common occurrence in the 1970s and 1980s. Between 1976 and 1996, the government shut down 17 times." -ABC News
4. Then why are people saying it's the second shutdown in modern history?
"Prior to 1980, everything kept on running pretty normally during budget impasses. True shutdowns didn't happen until after a series of Justice Department rulings at the tail end of the Carter administration.
Since then, there have been a handful of shutdowns prompted by garden variety disagreements over funding levels for defense and domestic programs, but they've been so brief as to be barely noticeable.
The only exception was the long shutdown of 1995, prompted by Newt Gingrich's demands. So when you hear someone saying that there have been loads of government shutdowns in the past and this one is really nothing new, it just isn't true. In practice, there's only been one serious shutdown in recent history, and like this one, it was the product of Republican ultimatums." -Mother Jones
5. What is a furlough?
"A furlough is the placement of an employee in a temporary nonpay and nonduty status (or absence from duty) because of lack of work or funds, or for other nondisciplinary reasons." -US Office of Personnel Management
6. How many people are furloughed?
"The government estimates that roughly 800,000 federal workers will get sent home if the government shuts down. That leaves about 1.3 million "essential" federal workers, 1.4 million active-duty military members, 500,000 Postal Service workers, and other employees in independently-funded agencies who will continue working." -The Washington Post
7. Well that's no fun. Who exactly isn't working?
Check out this chart compiled and regularly updated by The Washington Post on each department's impact and contingency plans.
During this shutdown, over 400 national parks are closed, the National Institutes of Health can no longer answer its medical hotline, the Justice department has suspended many civil cases, companies can't check the legal status of their employees with E-Verify, and the Gateway National Recreation Area in Sandy Hook, NJ had to furlough their poison ivy-eating goats. Other interesting furloughed workers include aviation safety inspectors, food inspectors and auto recall inspectors (so many inspectors).
8. Is the whole government shut down?
"No. There are three big categories that don’t. Some programs don’t require annual appropriations.
That group, which includes Social Security, Medicare and other so-called entitlements, continue without interruption. The second group entails functions 'necessary to protect life or property.' Law enforcement, the military, intelligence agencies and foreign embassies all will stay open. Finally, some programs have other sources of money that will allow them to function for a while. Courts, for example, can spend money they have collected through fines and fees, funds that would allow them to keep functioning for a while." -The Los Angeles Times
9. I'm so confused. Can you make this more simple?
"There are two types of mommies and daddies who work for the federal government and might be affected by the shutdown: non-essential and essential workers.
Essential workers are like the ice cream in a ice cream sundae; non-essential workers are like the toppings — great to have but not the most important ingredients. The toppings people will be told to stay home from work and may be grumpy because it’s unclear whether they will get paid; many may act like your uncle when he’s had too much 'silly juice.' The ice cream people, like the President and members of Congress, will still go to work." -TIME Swampland
10. How long will the shutdown last?
"Both Republicans and Democrats will be watching to see which side gets blamed for the impasse. Whichever side is losing the battle for public opinion will eventually decide the price has gotten too high and will offer concessions. In the Clinton administration, there were two government shutdowns. One lasted five days, the other, which affected only part of the government, went on for three weeks." -The Los Angeles Times
11. What will this do to the economy?
"The total economic impact is likely to be at least 10 times greater than the simple calculation of wages lost by federal workers, said Brian Kessler, economist with Moody's Analytics. His firm estimates that a three to four week shutdown will cost the economy about $55 billion. That would mean that the economic impact from a month-long shutdown would be roughly equal to the combined disruption caused by Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy, not counting the property damage that accompanied those storms." -CNNMoney
How do you feel about the shutdown? Who is to blame? How much longer until there is a congressional compromise? Let us know your thoughts!