Federal government shuts down, affecting students and on-campus sites

Anthony Green

For the first time since 1995, the federal government is in shutdown as a result of budget disagreements between the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. Though the post office, government-run schools and Medicare will continue to operate, all services deemed non-essential — including the LBJ Presidential Library and Museum — will temporarily shut their doors.

The disagreements, which fall mostly along partisan lines, are centered around the federal budget and specifically around funding and the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act, often referred to as Obamacare. Though the House passed multiple budget bills, each bill came with stipulations including delaying the act’s enactment and limiting the scope of its contraceptive coverage. A majority of Senate members refused to pass a budget with these conditions attached.

Though entitlement programs like Social Security will not be affected, government agencies reliant on yearly federal funding reached the end of their fiscal year Monday night. Affected agencies include the Pentagon, national parks and museums within the National Archives and Records Administration.

Katherine Stacy, a Plan II sophomore and LBJ Library employee, is one of roughly 60 LBJ Library and Museum employees who will remain out of work for the duration of the federal shutdown. 

“I’ve worked for the library since August of 2012,” Stacy said. “Now, I won’t be able to step foot into my job until a budget is passed.” 

Stacy said the team atmosphere her job provides will be greatly missed.

“I love working at the library,” Stacy said. “LBJ employs some of the best people I’ve ever come in contact with, who are all involved in really wonderful work and research.”

Stacy, who works as an aide in the library’s research room, said that beyond the library’s employees, the researchers who use the archives will also experience financial setbacks as a result of the shutdown. 

“The shutdown is going to be a real problem for library researchers who often book travel and accommodations for research studies months in advance,” Stacy said.

While the library and museum, which is visited by more than 150,000 patrons every year, will not be able to open its doors without the records administration’s federal funding, campus officials said they remain positive the shutdown will not greatly affect University operations and logistics. 

“The government shutdown will have very minimal overall affect on the University,” UT spokesman Robert Meckel said. 

Faculty research funding and student financial aid, which draw on federal funding, will not be affected.

“Financial aid has been secured for students through the 2013-2014 school year, with customer service offices and hotlines remaining open throughout the shutdown,” UT spokeswoman Tara Doolittle said. “Moreover, awards for research funding [are] usually given out a year in advance, so most applicants have since been compensated.”

A campus-based call center, as well as a research and customer-care call center, will be unavailable during the shutdown, but the on-campus Office of Student Financial Aid will remain open.