The U.S. government has been shut down for over a week, when on Oct. 1 Congress failed to compromise on a spending bill before the fiscal year ended. The shutdown resulted in 800,000 federal workers being furloughed and many services being suspended.
The last federal government shut down was in 1995-1996.
President Barack Obama delivered a statement on Oct. 1, blaming the Republicans-“one faction of one party of one house of Congress of one branch of government,” he said-for the shutdown.
“Republicans in the House of Representatives refused to fund the government unless we defunded or dismantled the Affordable Care Act,” he told the press in the Rose Garden. “They’ve shut down the government over an ideological crusade to deny affordable health insurance to millions of Americans. In other words, they demanded ransom just for doing their jobs.”
New Jersey’s lawmakers have largely criticized the shutdown. Sen. Robert Menendez, a Democrat, called it “a tragedy for the nation” that was “totally unnecessary.”
“What [Republicans] cannot understand is this is a law signed by the president, passed by Congress and reaffirmed by the United States Supreme Court. That’s the process,” he said in an article for NJ.com. “Until they can elect the president and carry both houses of Congress and go through the normal channels of trying to change this law, they need to do what they were elected to do, which is keep the government running effectively and efficiently.”
In The Star Ledger, Democrat Cory Booker spoke of the need for more bipartisanship in Congress, a major piece of his platform in the special senate election.
“You cannot govern from manufactured brinksmanship that shakes our economy and makes real people hurt. The end story of America is us finding ways to move forward despite our differences,” he said.
Even Governor Chris Christie, who spoke at Ramapo College last week, said the shutdown is “a failure of everyone responsible for the system.”
Gov. Christie offered a solution to the budget conflict if he were president: gather everyone together and get it done.
“My approach would be, as the executive: Call in the leaders of Congress or the Legislature and say, ‘We’re not leaving this room until we fix the problem,'” Gov. Christie told NJ.com. “When you’re the executive and you’re waiting from leadership from the legislative branch or government-whether you’re a governor or the president or a mayor-you’re going to wait forever and ever, because they’re not built to lead and take risks.”
On the other end of the spectrum, Republican nominee for U.S. Senator Steve Lonegan said the shutdown is necessary to “put America back on track.”
“You’ll have your police, you’ll have your schools, you’ll have your libraries, because local government is the government that matters,” Lonegan added.
Rep. Scott Garrett, a Republican from New Jersey’s fifth Congressional district, has been one of the most outspoken legislators against the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare.
“By an overwhelming majority, my constituents have made it clear that they are concerned with Obamacare and do not believe it is ready for prime time,” Garrett wrote on his Facebook page Oct. 1. “It is my hope that President Obama and the Senate will take this time to begin honest discussions with the House and come to a quick resolution to fund the federal government.”
Meanwhile, on the tenth day of the shutdown, President Obama is expected to meet with Congressional Republicans as a solution to the spending bill still lingers.
– Additional reporting by Nicole Alliegro