The U.S. Capitol building, weeks before it became the site of the first federal government shutdown since 1996.
Mustang News Editorial Board
For all the national talk of what the federal government shutdown is doing in Washington, D.C., it can be easy to overlook the effect it’s having at Cal Poly. But it’s already taking a toll.
While we recognize a degree of showmanship and ideology are part of politics, Congress needs to save those for another time. Today, it must pass a continuing resolution to open the government and end the suffering its closure is bringing to our university.
Aside from layers of confusion the shutdown is bringing to students who need to get in touch with the Department of Education for financial aid questions, we’ve also seen instances of it hurting university operations.
Students who were hired on campus this year but didn’t have their Social Security card handy have had to apply for a new one. But because of the shutdown, Social Security Administration offices are closed, leaving these students working without pay or unable to work at all.
And as for our Army ROTC program, students are unable to use Camp San Luis Obispo for training.
“The main thing impacting us right now goes along with the training piece — if we can’t use the facilities at Camp San Luis Obispo, we’re a little bit more limited,” said Capt. Jeremy Medaris, an assistant professor of military science.
“Honestly, I think in a month or so all this will be resolved,” he said.
The reason we’re seeing these problems here in San Luis Obispo is because of Congress’ disagreement over the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare. Republicans have taken a hard-line approach to negotiations by acting as if it’s OK for the shutdown to continue indefinitely unless Democrats make concessions to delay or defund Obamacare.
But CNN, The Washington Post and The Huffington Post all reported enough Republicans are willing to end the shutdown with a no-strings-attached bill Democrats have already endorsed. What’s stopping that bill now is pressure from the far-right Republicans — the ones who advocated for shutting down the government in the first place.
Speaker John Boehner knows a bill to open the government without changing Obamacare would lose among Republicans. This would embarrass the speaker more than perhaps any other course of action he could take, even though the bill would likely pass in the House of Representatives, Senate and be signed into law by the White House.
The government could be on track to open today if Boehner would allow a vote on this “clean” funding bill. To do so could cost the speaker his job, but it would spare Americans from Washington, D.C., to San Luis Obispo from the real and immediate effects of the government shutdown.
There is a place in democracy for legislative politicking, but it is not today. House Republicans should vote now for a funding bill to open the government back up, then try to make their case against the Affordable Care Act later.
This represents the opinion of the Mustang News editorial board, which includes J.J. Jenkins, Carly Rickards, Sean McMinn and Olivia DeGennaro.