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Due to a bitter debate over Obamacare, the U.S. government ran out of money Monday night and started to shut down. The U.S. House of Representatives voted Saturday 231-192 not to appropriate money to keep the government running unless federal health care reform is delayed for a year.
Another House vote on Monday passed by a smaller but still substantial margin, 228-201.
Under the Constitution, the House has the responsibility to appropriate money for the government. House members have to be elected every two years, so it is considered to be the lawmaking body that is the nearest to peoples' preferences, and therefore was given the authority to appropriate by the founding fathers.
But, the Senate and the White House are refusing to accept any delay in health care reforms.
If no agreement is reached by midnight Monday, most of the money that pays the government’s bills will be cut off, although some essential services will continue, such as active military, most veterans’ benefits, social security and Medicare, according to Rep. John Culberson of Texas.
Nearly 780,000 government workers are being furloughed, the Cable News Network (CNN) reported.
Some federal offices in North Platte are beginning to shut down. At other offices, pay will be delayed for workers in public safety.
"We will perform shut down operations and employees will be sent home," said Bruce Solko, the director of the USDA Farm Service Agency in North Platte. The FSA employs eight people.
Two other USDAS agencies are doing the same, Solko said.
The National Weather Service in North Platte is considered to be necessary for public safety and will remain open, but paychecks will be delayed, meteorologist Clifford Cole said. The situation is much the same at the Federal Aviation office at North Platte Regional Airport/Lee Bird Field.
Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program will not be affected by the federal shutdown, said Kerrey Winterer, the head of Nebraska's Health and Human Services.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly called Food Stamps) also has funds through at least October.
Other programs, such as Aid to Dependent Children, the Child Care Subsidy program and the Women, Infant and Children program have money but may be impacted as time goes by.
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program usually receives federal money for the heating season in November, so could also be impacted if the shutdown continues for a month or so, Winterer said.
Members of Congress and the White House would still get their paychecks, a spokesman from Rep. Adrian Smith's office said Monday afternoon.
Smith represents much of Nebraska in the House. He voted to delay Obamacare.
Smith and Culberson blame the Senate for not acting.
“My constituents are opposed to this massive intrusion,” Culberson said Monday in a CNN interview. “They do not want the federal government to socialize medical care.”
Culberson said people have a right to be left alone by the federal government, that it is "probably our most sacred right" and people will be forced to turn over private information to the IRS when they sign up for mandatory health insurance.
Signups begin Tuesday, when the federal government opens a marketplace for people to shop for their mandatory insurance policy. Culberson said enrollment information on the Internet could be hacked.
Rep. Adrian Smith of Nebraska said a one-year delay of Obamacare is a reasonable compromise between those who want it and those who don't.
"President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Reid have refused to negotiate, even though the health care law clearly is not ready to be implemented, and many Democrats acknowledge problems in the law," Smith said.