Some Ohio State students and faculty members breathed a sigh of relief Wednesday when it seemed the government shutdown was coming to a close. While an agreement reached by Congress seemed to be the end of the situation, though, some said there is still work to be done in America’s political sphere.
The 16-day government shutdown was set to come to an end Wednesday night with the signature of President Barack Obama on a budget agreement reached by the House of Representatives and the Senate. Senate leaders Democrat Harry Reid of Nevada and Republican Mitch McConnell of Kentucky announced a bipartisan agreement to raise the U.S. debt ceiling through February. Obama was expected to receive the deal Wednesday night, shortly before the U.S. would reach the Thursday deadline for its $16.7 trillion borrowing limit.
Wednesday evening, Obama gave a televised press conference on the state of the government shutdown and disagreement in Congress.
“One of the things that I said throughout this process is we’ve got to get out of the habit of governing by crisis,” he said. “And my hope and expectation is everybody has learned that there is no reason why we can’t work on the issues at hand, why we can’t disagree between the parties while still being agreeable, and make sure that we’re not inflicting harm on the American people when we do have disagreements.”
The shutdown began Oct. 1 as a result of Congress’ failure to pass a federal budget for the fiscal year before its deadline.
The controversy surrounding the budget was largely a result of a debate about how the government would be funding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Obama’s health care initiative, which went into effect Oct. 1 as well. The version of the budget some members of the House was pushing would not have funded Obamacare, delaying its enactment, while the Senate budget proposal included funding for the legislation.
Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio released a statement Wednesday evening and called the progress a “win for the American people” but noted his desire to avoid Washington’s pattern of “overpromising and overspending.”
“Lurching from crisis to crisis is no way to rejuvenate America’s economy, and unfortunately, we do not have a long-term fix that will prevent another shutdown in January,” Portman said in a statement posted on his website.
Some students at Ohio State were happy Wednesday to hear the shutdown seemed on its way to ending.
“It’s great. The debt ceiling is something we need to deal with, but it shouldn’t be dealt with through holding the government hostage,” said Mark Gramila, a third-year in accounting.
Others said there need to be changes made in Congress to prevent future shutdowns.
“Honestly, (the shutdown) should have never happened in the first place,” said J.C. Reyes, a fourth-year in international studies. “Our political parties should be working together … or at least compromising.”
Congress’ agreement was set to reopen the government, ending the furlough of federal employees who had left work or gone without pay during the past two weeks.
The agreement was made to fund the government through the start of 2014, at which point officials must determine a federal budget to avoid another shutdown.
Reid said on the Senate floor Wednesday representatives would be chosen by the House and Senate as part of the deal to create “a budget conference committee that will set our country on a long-term path to fiscal sustainability,” according to The Washington Post.
Paul Beck, professor emeritus of political science, said Wednesday the shutdown shouldn’t have happened at all.
“This could have been resolved in this way months ago. We’ve been dragged through a very contentious process,” he said.
Some students, meanwhile, were still not fully satisfied with the terms reached.
Vice Chair of OSU College Republicans Miranda Onnen, a third-year in political science and economics, said the work isn’t over yet.
“This is the best solution for the time being,” she said. “(But) days like today appearing as ‘progress’ is a disillusionment that Americans have with Washington.”
Before the Wednesday Congress agreement was reached, Speaker of the House John Boehner, a Republican from Ohio, among several others, proposed alternative solutions that did not make it to the House due to lack of projected success.
The agreement reached by Congress Wednesday does not inhibit the Affordable Care Act’s funding.
Some student veterans were concerned about the political stalemate, a situation that if continued, would have resulted in a loss of financial support.
Mike Carrell, director of OSU’s Office of Military and Veterans Services, said in an email earlier this month if the government ran out of money under a debt-limit scenario, student-veterans’ payments would be stopped.
OSU has more than 2,200 students using benefits from the Department of Veteran Affairs and the Department of Defense, the overwhelming majority of whom are veterans who use the GI Bill benefits, Carrell said.
John Haviland, a former Marine Corps military police officer and an OSU student, previously told The Lantern he would face issues if the shutdown continued.
“I rely on my payments through the GI Bill for paying for my rent, paying for my car, as well as all of my other bills,” the second-year in computer science and engineering said. “(But) if it affects me, so be it, I’ll have to drop out of school for a semester or two go and get a full-time job and then I can come back. My money will be here sooner or later. I’ll find some way to survive.”
The Post-9/11 GI Bill provides financial support for education and housing for student-veterans who served at least 90 days of aggregate service after Sept. 10, 2001, or who were discharged with a service-connected disability after 30 days, according to its website.
OSU College Democrats representatives did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday.
Matthew Miles and Matthew Mithoefer contributed to this story.
This article has been revised to reflect the following clarification:
Clarification: Oct. 17, 2013
An earlier version of this story stated Vice Chair of OSU College Republicans Miranda Onnen was interviewed via email, when in fact, Onnen was spoken to over the phone.