By Alejandro Freixes, CCNN Head Writer
As the October 1 launch of the Affordable Care Act – or, Obamacare – drew near, Republicans threatened to shut down the government if Congress didn’t defund (take away money) from the healthcare law. Despite both Democrats and Republicans calling for compromise, agreement seemed unlikely.
Although Obamacare was passed in 2010 and several changes have already gone into effect, major portions wouldn’t go live until October 1. This led to the leader of the Republican-led House of Representatives, House Speaker John Boehner, starting a tug-of-war with the Democrat-led Senate. Boehner said on Monday, “We passed a bill… The Senate decided not to work yesterday. My goodness, if there is such an emergency, where were they?”
A spokesman for Senate Majority leader Harry Reid responded with, “…the Senate will do exactly what we said we would do and reject these measures. At that point, Republicans will be faced with the same choice they have always faced: put the Senate’s clean funding bill on the floor and let it pass with bipartisan (both parties) votes, or force a Republican government shutdown.” The White House chimed in too, as spokesman Jay Carney expressed, “Any member of the Republican party who votes for this bill is voting for a shutdown.”
Despite the back-and-forth, for the first time in 17 years, the US government shut down at midnight, 12:01 am ET Tuesday. What that means is that government employees across the nation who are “non-essential” (meaning they’re not absolutely needed to keep basic things like the postal service and the law courts going in the country) will be told they can’t come in to work until Congress works past their differences. More than 800,000 people are affected, so hopefully both sides can come to an agreement.