US Govt shutting down today? Yes! (updated)

US Govt shutting down today? Yes! (updated)

Relations between US Congressional Republicans and Democrats are so bad that the country's government has effectively shut down. What will happen now?

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11:00 am update. US government shuts down

It is now past midnight in Washington DC and the new fiscal year has begun. And since the US Congress has failed to come up with last-minute agreement to fund the US government, many government services will soon start the process of shutting down. 

If you one the 800,000 US federal government employees, you are supposed to go to work tomorrow morning where you will find out if you are considered "essential" nor "not essential". If you are not considered essential, you are to clear up any work, cancel any appointments and then leave by noon. You will return to work when the federal government has money to pay you.

There will soon be a lot of pressure on members of Congress to put aside their differences and get the government back up and running. Republican members, who have tried to use the funding issue to stop President Obama's healthcare plan, will feel the most heat from angry US citizens. Already, there are signs of uneasiness among moderate Republicans. Most experts are saying the shutdown is unlikely to last long and the healthcare demand will be dropped – at least temporarily.

Tueday morning update

Last minute-efforts to avoid a government shutdown are being likened to a game of ping-pong. The Republican-dominated House of Representatives passes a bill to fund the government if funding for the president's health care plan is delayed a year. The Democrat-dominated Senate reject that condition and demand a "clean" funding bill. President Obama is complaining the Republican's  are using the funding crisis to "extract ransom".

Meanwhile, the clock is ticking. 9:00am Thai time is 10pm Washington. The shutdown process begins at midnight or 11am our time.

Earlier story

(Left) US Senate Majority Leader Senator Harry Reid, a Democrat, and Speaker of the House, Republican John Boehner. To put it mildly, they do not agree on how the US government should spend its money. AFP

US Govt shutting down tomorrow?

If you think the relationship between Thailand's two biggest political parties, Phue Thai and the Democrats, is bad, it is nothing compared to the bad blood between the Republicans and Democrats in the United States.

Things are so bad, the country's government might start shutting down about noon our time tomorrow.

Here's the problem. The US government runs on a fiscal year which begins on October 1st. Under the US constitution, the government can only spend money under laws passed by Congress. So far, the Congress – the Senate and the House of Representatives – has failed to pass such laws, largely because of a dispute over President Obama's health care plan that was passed into law in 2010.

The US Capital building, home of the US Congress where sour relations between the Democrats and Republicans make a government shutdown seem very likely. AFP

If the deadline passes, the US government won’t shut down completely.  Essential services will continue. Air traffic controllers will continue to help airplanes take off and land safely. The mail will be delivered, the federal courts will continue to operate and, presumably, taxes will continue to be collected. If you need a visa to visit the United States, that service will continue because your fees pay for it.

The US military will continue on the job, but their paychecks may be delayed. However, many of the military’s civilian workers would be furloughed, until a spending bill is passed by Congress and signed by the president. Non-essential federal workers would also be furloughed and it is not clear if they would eventually be paid for the time they were forced to be out of work.

Many US government services will have to shut down temporarily. National parks will close and even NASA will have to furlough most of its workers, leaving enough essential workers to keep the International Space station functioning where two Americans and four others are currently deployed.

How long could a shutdown last? Members of Congress will quickly come under pressure to get the government back in business, ending a shutdown that US citizens clearly oppose.  Altogether there have been 17 shutdowns since 1977, most lasting from a few hours to a few days. The longest shutdown was 21 days.

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  • adj (noun): connected with soldiers or the armed forces - ในทางทหาร,เกี่ยวกับทหาร
  • air traffic controller: a person whose job is to give instructions by radio to pilots of aircraft so that they know when and where to take off or land - ผู้ควบคุมจราจรทางอากาศ
  • appointment: a formal arrangement to meet or visit somebody at a particular time, especially for a reason connected with their work - การนัดหมาย, การนัดพบ
  • avoid: to try to prevent something from happening - หลีกเลี่ยง
  • bad blood (noun): feelings of hatred or strong dislike - ความเกลียดชัง, ความไม่พอใจ, ความรู้สึกไม่ดีต่อกัน
  • bill: a proposal for a law - ร่างกฎหมาย
  • citizen: someone who has the right to live permanently in a particular country - พลเมือง 
  • civilian: of someone who does not belong to the armed forces or the police - พลเรือน
  • condition: something that must be done before another thing can happen - เงื่อนไข
  • consider: to regard as; to think of as - ถือว่า
  • constitution: the set of laws and basic principles that a country in governed by - รัฐธรรมนูญ
  • court: the place where legal trials take place and where crimes, etc. are judged - ศาล
  • crisis: a situation that has reached and extremely difficult or dangerous point - ช่วงวิกฤต
  • currently: at this time; now - ในปัจจุบัน
  • deadline: a time or day by which something must be done - เส้นตาย
  • delay (verb): to do something later than is planned or expected; to cause something to happen at a later time - เลื่อน, เลื่อนเวลา
  • demand: a very firm request for something - ข้อเรียกร้อง, การเรียกร้อง
  • deploy: (of police, soldiers, government officials or equipment) to put in place ready for action - ส่ง ประจำการ.
  • dispute: a serious disagreement - ข้อโต้แย้ง
  • dominate: to be in control - มีอำนาจเหนือ ครอบคลุม ควบคุม
  • essential: necessary - ที่จำเป็น
  • expert: someone who has a particular skill or who knows a lot about a particular subject - ผู้เชี่ยวชาญ
  • extract (verb): to get something from someone who does not want to give it to you - เค้น
  • federal: relating to the central government, and not to the government of a region, of some countries such as the United States - เกี่ยวกับสหพันธรัฐ
  • fee: an amount of money that you pay to be allowed to do something - ค่าธรรมเนียม, ค่าตอบแทน, ค่าบริการ
  • fiscal year: the budget year which begins in October for the Thai government; Businesses may have different fiscal years - ปีงบประมาณ
  • function: to work or operate in a normal way - เป็นปกติ  ใช้การได้ปกติ
  • fund: to provide money for something - ให้เงินทุน
  • furlough (verb): to tell workers not to come to work for a period of time, usually because there is not enough money to pay them - พักงาน
  • meanwhile: at the same time - ในเวลาเดียวกัน
  • mildly (adv.): not seriously or strongly - เล็กน้อย, อย่างเบาๆ
  • moderate: a person who has opinions, especially about politics, that are not extreme - ผู้ที่มีความคิดไม่รุนแรง (โดยเฉพาะทางการเมือง)
  • operate: to carry out an activity like running a business - ดำเนินการ
  • oppose: to disagree with or not approve of a plan or policy - คัดค้าน
  • pressure: a worried feeling that you get when you have to deal with a difficult or complicated situation - ความกดดัน
  • presumably: used for saying that you think something is true based on what you know, although you are not really certain - น่าเป็นไปได้, ซึ่งพอเป็นจริงได้
  • process: a series of actions that you take in order to achieve a result - แนวทางปฏิบัติ, กระบวน, วิธีการ
  • ransom: the amount of money that someone wants to be paid before they will let a person go or give back a valuable object - เงินค่าไถ่
  • reject: to not accept something - ปฏิเสธ ไม่ยอมรับ
  • relationship: the way in which two people, groups or countries behave towards each other or deal with each other - ความสัมพันธ์
  • senator: a member of the Senate - วุฒิสมาชิก
  • sour relations: to cause a relationship to have problems; to worsen relations -
  • Speaker of the House: the person who is in charge of most of the activities of the House of Representatives - ประธานสภาผู้แทนราษฎร
  • temporarily: for a limited period of time - ชั่วคราว
  • temporarily: only for a limited time; not permanent - ชั่วคราว
  • uneasiness (noun): the feeling of being worried or unhappy about something - ความไม่สบายใจ, ความกังวลใจ, ความกระวนกระวายใจ

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