The US is staring at a debt default deadline just a week down the road, October 17, when it will run out of money to service its debt and pay social benefits.Obama told congressional Democrats in a meeting on Wednesday he was for a broader budget deal once the “threat of default was removed an the government was reopened”.
“No Congress in 224 years of American history has allowed our country to default,” treasury secretary Jack Lew said at a senate hearing on Thursday, adding, “And it is my sincere hope that this Congress will not be the first.”
Shutdowns, however, are not that rare. There have been 17 since the modern congressional budget process was adopted in 1976 — and the current one is the sixth longest, at 10 days on Thursday.
Over 800,000 federal employees have been furloughed, impacting critical health trials, federally run education programmes for the poor and shut down national monuments.
Though US defence service employees are exempted, the shutdown has forced Pentagon to borrow from a non-profit to pay death benefits to families of those killed in action.