Remember when you were a kid fighting with your siblings at the dinner table and your mom warned that if you couldn’t get along then no one got dessert?
That, in a nutshell, is essentially what’s going on with the federal government shutdown — the first in 17 years — that began October 1. Only instead of a bunch of whiny little kids kicking each other under the table, insert a gaggle of squabbling elected officials arguing about Obamacare, and replace chocolate cake with — oh I don’t know — little treats like national parks and NASA, and you’ve pretty much nailed down the current meltdown in Washington.
Before the end of each fiscal year (September 30), Congress is tasked with passing a set of appropriations bills that allot funds to a large swath of federal agencies. No funds mean no business: all those agencies have to literally turn the lights off (and yes, that includes the panda cam at the National Zoo). Meanwhile, much of the federal workforce — about 800,000 employess — are being furloughed (no pay) until Congress reaches an agreement. (It deserves mentioning, though, that all current members of Congress, as well as the president, will continue to receive paychecks during this period — you know, in case that was of concern to you.)
The following media resources explain the situation in detail, including how we got here, where things might go and how it could affect you.
Produced by the Associated Press, this interactive tool functionally explains the current state of dysfunction
USA Today put together this exhaustive, clearly written list of explanations about the mess we find ourselves in.
Again from the Washington Post, this interactive shows the federal agencies hit by the shutdown, and the number of furloughed employees in each.
This New York Times graphic traces the back and forth in the halls of Congress that led to the shutdown.
Mother Jones put together this extensive list of the people who stand to be impacted the most by the shutdown.
The Washington Post (once again), does a good job charting and explaining the causes of every government shutdown that’s happened since 1976. The Associated Press also published this interesting piece on the government shutdown’s constitutional roots.
And finally …
OK, so not exactly an exemplar of objective journalism, but too hilarious to leave out: Jon Stewart waxes poetic on the shutdown.