Constitution Daily

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Everything you need to know about a government shutdown, in 4 links

March 2, 2011 by Robin Morris


Editor’s Note: The House on Tuesday approved a stopgap measure that would keep the government funded through March 18. The Senate is expected to pass the measure by Thursday. In this post Robin Morris, the Center’s National Programs Manager rounds up the most insightful reporting and commentary on the budget showdown.A game of brinksmanship is being played out in the legislative and executive branches. Congress and the president must agree on a budget to avert a government shutdown.

Insults and barbs are being traded by Republicans and Democrats. Nobody wants to be blamed for shutting the government down. If the Senate passes a continuing resolution approved by the House, the parties will have bought time. For more on where the cuts will be made, check out “House to Vote on Spending Aimed at Preventing Shutdown” in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Government budgets are like a statement of values, and many elected representatives are not showing much interest in compromising their values. As The Washington Post explained, the 87 new members of the Republican Party see their role not simply as a responsibility, but as a “calling.” The enormous federal budget deficit is what made many of this class of freshmen dare to run for Congress, reducing it has been called a “moral obligation” by one, and compromise may not be in their vocabulary.

The budget showdown tackles big and small issues so what happens if the government shuts down?

  • Nonessential personnel will stop working (though federal employees will get back pay).
  • Air traffic controllers will report to work and planes will safely fly in our skies. Forget about getting your passport processed.
  • Your tax return will have to wait.
  • No naturalization ceremonies for new citizens.
  • The federal courts will close.

For an overview, see’s “Government shutdown: What’s at stake.”

We all know this isn’t just a story about politics and which party gets blamed. For a thoughtful big picture piece, read “The New Normal” by David Brooks.

Photo by Flickr user: khawkins04

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