Forcing the United States government into inaction through a government shutdown in a far-fetched attempt to defund the Affordable Care Act might not be a completely desirable option for House GOP members, but the consequences of a shutdown look familiar to the outcomes of many conservative leaders’ legislation across the country the past few years.
Conservatives have attempted and been successful in drafting legislation that restricts abortion and access to health clinics, limits the powers of the EPA and disrupts the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, which conservative say had a key role in the Fast and Furious scandal.
In essence, a government shutdown does much of what Tea Party members of Congress have wanted since their comeback election in 2010, but now without the cost of attributable political votes. The House has realized that they can achieve what they want (somewhat) through a newly desirable outcome: Shutting down the government and non-essential agencies temporarily. Though this may be a newly-found, politically safe move, many federal workers from health, law enforcement and regulatory agencies will likely be sent home and those that stay working will do so without pay as a result of the possible shutdown.
Starting now, House Republicans could start bullying government agencies they feel threaten their interests into political submission since Democrats have more to lose in a government shutdown; Democrats tend to support government regulatory agencies more often than Republicans.
Some of the programs forced to stop functioning through a shutdown are the same agencies House GOP members want severely limited like the EPA, which EPA chief Gina McCarthy said would essentially be rendered ineffective.
Also on the House GOP’s black list are financial agencies that play a role in regulating Wall Street, Social Security (i.e., entitlements) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. These agencies are also at risk of losing their ability to function healthily if a shutdown occurs. The last few times a shutdown happened, the ATF was unable to process applications for firearms and alcohol. Their ability to hire was also brought to a momentary end.
Also, the National Institute of Health would stop taking new patients for research and replying to medical questions from citizens on hotlines.
Similarly, the Environmental Protection Agency nearly shuts down. Also, according to the Washington Post,
“The federal government would have to take a break from working on drilling permits and processing applications for liquefied natural gas exports.”
The consequences of the cuts and reforms Tea Party members of Congress wrote into their most recent budget don’t deviate much from the effects agencies would be forced to take on if the government shuts down.
The late-September House bill included provisions to block the federal government from regulating greenhouse gases, restricting child tax credits for immigrants without Social Security numbers, $5 billion in cuts to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and eliminating a provision of Dodd-Frank that gives regulatory agencies permission to pay creditors when a bank collapses.
Unsurprisingly, the House’s budget did not pass the Democratically-controlled Senate with members voting 79-19 on cloture. The Senate’s bill, which included an amendment to defunding the Affordable Care Act passed 54-44.
If the government shuts down, it will come shortly after the EPA proposed what critics call expensive, strict and unproven regulations on smokestacks which will force industries to scrub and seize emissions. The process is called carbon capture and sequestration (CCS).