Government Shutdown: What You Need to Know

John Boehner CC

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH)/ Photo licensed under Creative Commons

The government has shut down today because Congress failed to do its job of passing a budget for fiscal year 2014, which begins today.

What Happened

In the last days leading up to the deadline both the House and Senate passed temporary spending bills (officially called "continuing resolutions") to keep the government running, but the House's version would have prevented the implementation and funding of Obamacare. Democrats in the Senate opposed such a move, so the two chambers couldn't agree on even a short-term bill to keep the government open.

Why Americans Should Be Outraged

Republicans in the House have attached what is essentially a laundry list of unrelated demands to the task of fulfilling their most basic function of keeping the government running. That's outrageous and deeply irresponsible.

Democrats in the Senate, meanwhile, failed to pass even a single appropriations bill this year, when there are supposed to be 12 such bills to properly fund the government. That, too, is outrageous and irresponsible. (The House passed a measly four of the 12 appropriations bills – also abyssmal.)

When lawmakers budget by crisis and pass last-minute spending bills (or none at all), our tax dollars are spent in a process that lacks transparency and oversight – and it's eroding our democracy.

What's Next?

The two chambers will continue to wrangle over the basic task of keeping the government running.