The stalemate in Congress over a continuing resolution to fund the federal government means most of its non-essential services are shut down for the time being. UW-Madison political scientist David Canon says most Americans are unlikely to notice much of a change because of that shutdown, at least for a few weeks.

If lawmakers fail to act on a resolution to fund the government and raise the nation’s debt ceiling by October 17th, the U.S. Treasury is expected to run out of money to pay for services such as Social Security, government contracts, and possibly even the military. If that happens, Canon says it would “catastrophic” for the nation’s economy and would like have global implications.

He says it’s unlikely to reach that point though, considering most of Congress actually appears to support the resolution that has been passed by the U.S. Senate, which does not include language that would defund or delay the Affordable Care Act. Canon believes the resolution would pass today with broad bipartisan support in the House of Representatives, if the Speaker would just bring it up for a vote.

AUDIO: David Canon (:15)

During the last government shutdown between 1995 and 1996, the impasse was broken only after Congress felt enough political pressure to act. Canon expects the same thing will happen this time around. Already, he’s seeing polls that shows Republicans are being assigned most of the blame for the current stand-off.

Canon says the shutdown in the 1990s ended up doing great harm to the GOP, possibly even winning Democratic President Bill Clinton a second term. If Republicans see their chances of holding on to a majority in the House at risk for the mid-term elections, that could end the stalemate quickly. However, he says it’s hard to predict how long it will take for that to happen.

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