Much of the federal government is now shutdown because of Congress’s failure to pass a funding bill.
Huge sections of the government – the costliest ones, like Social Security, Medicare, veterans’ benefits and war-fighting efforts – remain open.
But the shutdown could have huge affects in Alaska, the state with the third highest percentage of federal employees.
It’s unclear how long it will last.
The Senate convened early this morning and promptly dismissed the latest attempts from House Republicans to slash key elements of the Affordable Care Act.
Some federal employees are reporting to work for half days, others have been told to not come in, and some are working, hoping they’ll be back-paid.
Senator Tom Coburn, a conservative Republican from Oklahoma, says he thinks many people’s fears will come true – that the shutdown will drag on for days, possibly weeks.
“And now that you’ve got the government shut down, I think you’ll see the debt ceiling and this merge together,” Coburn said.
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has warned Congressional leaders the government will no longer be able to pay its bills as of October seventeenth.
Congress needs to raise the debt ceiling by that date or face bedlam in the global economy.
Senator Lisa Murkowski says the shutdown cannot last into the debt ceiling debate.
“I can’t imagine the economic chaos that will be created,” Murkowski said.
Both chambers of Congress could pass bills raising the debt ceiling before the deadline. But if there’s one near certainty in Washington, it’s don’t bank on Congress to give itself breathing room.