Government Shutdown: Real People, Real Effects

With Ted Cruz making statements like  Democrats will be “obstructionists at a level we’ve never seen” and will “filibuster absolutely everything they can,” we should go back a few years and remember what it was like when the Tea Party caused a total government shutdown. (WaPo)

In October 2013, the federal government shut down for two weeks due to congress’ inability to pass a budget.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) continues to be very controversial for a range of reasons. After failing to block passage of the original act in 2010, failing to pass countless repeals from 2010 – 2013, losing a Supreme Court case in 2012, and failing to win the 2012 U.S. Presidential Election that might have lead to repeal of that act, right wing elements of the Republican Party — often referred to as the Tea Party – within the U.S. House of Representatives attached a provision to a spending bill that required eliminating funding for the implementation of the PPACA in order to fund the rest of the U.S. Federal Government. That bill was sent to the U.S. Senate. The Senate then stripped out the provisions relating to defunding the PPACA, and sent it back to the House. The House then sent back a version of the bill that delayed implementation of the Act for one year, and the Senate tabled the measure and didn’t even take it up for consideration. Since the U.S. Congress has not passed law to appropriate any funds past September 30, 2013, the Federal Government has “shut down.”(Forbes)

For sixteen days, all government services deemed non-essential were unavailable. The employees missed work and pay. Average citizens were unable to obtain assistance with services such as social security, taxes, there was some impact to national parks, student loans and federally-backed mortgages, WIC, SNAP, support for food pantries, EPA cleanup, etc.



I was directly affected by the edict of no new clinical trials or new patients at the National Institutes of Health. At the time, I was extremely ill, had been in and out of the hospital several times, and although the doctors had finally figured out my problem was esophageal candidiasis, they had no idea why I was getting it or why they could not get rid of it.

Through my own research, I found a clinical trial at the NIH that fit my situation perfectly. I sent an email to the doctor in charge, and was pleasantly surprised when I heard back from him almost instantly. Yes, they could help me, but there was one roadblock – technically they were not even working, because the government was shut down. They could not enroll me, schedule my visit, or consult on my case until the shutdown ended.

I literally sat at home, trying desperately to control my symptoms with medication, and waited. And waited. And waited. Two weeks later, we were finally able to get everything started. Unfortunately, by the time all the trst results started coming back, I was too sick to wait any longer. I went back to the hospital, but this time I was armed with very specific information and a treatment plan.

The government shutdown caused me to end up hospitalized an extra time. It’s highly likely that trip is where I picked up MRSA. I always considered myself incredibly fortunate to get into the study, so I generally do not look back on this negatively. But the truth is the government shutdown cost me quite a bit.

I’m sure there are many people with stories of how they were affected, some worse than mine. It frustrates me greatly that the most important job in the country is the only one where you can get away with not doing it. Anywhere else…you would be fired.

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About Renee Webb 322 Articles
Renee is a recovering Conservative who lives at the intersection of the Bible Belt and the Hypocrisy Highway.
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