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Local political expert weighs in on government shutdown

By: Matthew Rand Email
By: Matthew Rand Email

PRESTONSBURG, Ky. (WYMT) - Portions of the federal government will shut down at the stroke of midnight Monday, unless Congress can reach a compromise in this latest budget battle.

This would be the first shutdown of the federal government since the shutdown of 1995 and 1996, which furloughed non-essential government workers and suspended non-essential services for a total of 28 days.

WYMT talked with Tom Matijasic, Ph.D., a history professor at Big Sandy Community & Technical College in Prestonsburg about the effect this new shutdown might have on Eastern Kentucky.

House Republicans voted Monday night to restore language to a stopgap spending bill that would delay for one year the individual mandate prescribed in the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

"Republicans are concerned because they're not exactly sure what's in it," Matijasic said. "That's a legitimate concern."

Democrats in the Senate have already rejected the proposed change three times, setting the stage for a shutdown of non-essential government services.

Parts of the federal government will shut down if Congress fails to reach a deal by the midnight deadline, but Matijasic says most people in Eastern Kentucky won't feel those effects, at least not right away.

"You're really looking at the government shutting down for maybe three or four days. Essential personnel will still be paid; they'll still be on the job," Matijasic said.

A shutdown will have consequences. Social security checks will still be mailed, but passports will be delayed, federally-backed mortgages and gun permits won't be processed, and about 800,000 federal workers would be sent home without pay. Matijasic says that could include workers with the Mine Safety and Health Administration.

"These constant crises over the budget are just absurd," he said. "We used to be able to govern with compromise. We're going to have to do that again. It's the way our government is set up."

No matter how this latest budget battle is resolved, Matijasic says the fight over Obamacare is likely far from over.

House Republicans decided late Monday they will not try to pass any more bills to fund the government, so it appears a shutdown is inevitable.

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