THE BLOG
10/08/2013 01:02 pm ET | Updated Jan 23, 2014

Why Did the U.S. Government Shut Down in October 2013?

This question originally appeared on Quora.

Answer by Aaron Hellman, Full of questions

Per the constitution, Congress must pass the fiscal Federal Budget for the fiscal federal year of Oct 1 - Sept 30. This is achieved when the House and Senate come to an agreed upon budget and send it to the president for his signature or veto. If POTUS vetoes, both houses may overrule him with a 2/3 vote in each house.

Currently, the House (Republican controlled, I'll designate w/ HR) is offering their budget to the Senate (Democrat controlled, designate SD) to be approved, which would hypothetically go to POTUS. I say hypothetically because the SD does not agree with the HR's budget, and the HR does not agree with the SD'd budget, so nothing will go to the president.

Even though the president agrees with the SD and would sign their budget, the House will not agree to it, so it will never reach the president's desk.

The reason the budget has so much to do with this is that the Affordable Care Act (aka ACA, aka Obamacare) will require funding from the Federal Budget for this coming fiscal year. So the Rep's version of the Federal Budget would de-fund the ACA, thus rendering it lame. The SD's budget would fund it through the Federal Budget, rendering the ACA active.

The reason that the HRs and SDs cannot agree is that the HRs are using this power of budget approval to stall the budget so that they may show their constituents that they are doing "everything in their power" to stall the ACA, as the majority of Republicans disagree with the provisions of the ACA.

Many people are very angered by this, as there are many federal workers who are losing pay as they are deemed "unnecessary," and therefore are not paid in absence of a Federal Budget. While this may be cause to be ashamed of our legislators, remember that you voted in all these people. And now that they are there, they are doing what they think is best on behalf of the US population (or so we hope).

Keep in mind, we live in a Democratic Republic. If you want to change anything, you'll have to wait until election day.

Until then, contact your local and state Reps and Senators. That is the best way to get your opinion heard.

And that's how the Fed cookie crumbles.

P.S. The lack of a Federal Budget does not mean that many of the federal workers will stay out of work. Congress will often come together and pass bills and resolutions to temporarily fund certain programs and organizations in the interim until a budget gets passed.

So the sky is not falling ... yet.

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