For two weeks, parts of the United States government were closed while lawmakers argued over the country’s budget—how the government plans to earn and spend money. But lawmakers finally reached a deal late Wednesday night, and the government is back in business.
Senators and Representatives in the U.S. Congress have to pass, or approve, a budget by September 30 every year to keep the government running. But this year, Congress could not reach an agreement. So for 16 days, many services, organizations, and even parks run by the national government were shut down.
HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?
There are two main political parties in the U.S.: Republicans and Democrats. These two groups disagree on what to do about many issues facing the country. But lawmakers from both parties have to come together when making laws and planning the government’s budget.
Why didn’t they reach an agreement on time this year? The two parties have been arguing over a health-care law that was signed into law by President Barack Obama three years ago. The law is scheduled to take effect over the next year. Most Democrats support the law. But many Republicans think the law is too expensive for both Americans and the government.
Most Republican lawmakers would not agree to a budget that spent money on the new health-care law. Most Democrats would not agree to a budget that did not.
After two weeks with government offices closed, lawmakers finally made a deal. Congress agreed to continue last year’s budget for three months. Lawmakers hope this will give both parties enough time to come together to make a better budget.
“I want to thank those Democrats and Republicans for getting together and ultimately getting this job done,” said President Obama after signing the agreement into law.
BACK IN BUSINESS
On Thursday, government employees were asked to return to work. That meant national parks such as Yellowstone and Yosemite were reopened for visitors, as well as monuments like the Lincoln Memorial. Scientists resumed developing medicines at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and astronauts went back to work at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Services provided by the national government such as food, medical care, and permits and passports were once again being approved for people who need them.
The President thanked government workers in a speech on Thursday after the deal had been reached. “Thanks for your service,” he said. “Welcome back.”