Brace yourself, because the government is shutting down. You don't have to physically brace yourself. Washington D.C. won't implode. President Barack Obama isn't getting evicted from the White House. It's possible you may not even notice. So, we should have said mentally brace yourself.
Because CNN—and many others—say the shutdown is most likely happening.
It's a whole big thing. So we decided to break it down and make it easy for anyone (and we do mean anyone) to understand. Toddlers & Tiaras style.
It's all about Obamacare, which needs a whole step-by-step guide of its own. Let's not get into it. All you need to know is that Democrats want it and Republicans don't want it. And each side thinks getting their way is better than any Grand Supreme title.
Ted Cruz is a new Senator in Congress, which is like being the new girl in the pageant circuit. He wants to win really bad. And he really, really does not want Obamacare to pass. He's a Republican.
Republicans have lost the vote on Obamacare many times before. Many, many times. Obamacare has already passed into law, actually! But Ted, along with his buddy Utah Senator Mike Lee, decided the best way to try and stop it is by saying that the government can have its budget money, but only if they don't spend it on Obamacare.
They got House Speaker John Boehner to include a bunch of anti-Obamacare amendments (those are like fancy changes) in the current spending bill. The House, which is mostly Republicans, passed the bill. It then goes to the Senate.
The Republicans know that if the spending bill doesn't pass, the government gets shut down.
But the Senate is mostly Democrats and they have said they will not pass anything that attacks Obamacare. So when the bill came to a vote, they wanted all of the anti-Obamacare parts taken out. It did not pass.
But not before Ted "filibustered" talk on the bill for 21 hours. A filibuster is when you talk and talk and talk so that no one can vote. This wasn't really a filibuster because the Senate planned to vote anyway. Ted just wasted time trying to change the amount of votes needed to pass the bill (because he knew it wasn't going to pass otherwise) and reading Green Eggs and Ham.
"They do not like Obamacare in a box, in a house, or with a mouse," he read, apparently unaware that the book ends with the main characters realizing that he does like Obamacare green eggs and ham. Whoopsies!
The bill went back to the House and the Republicans passed it again. Then back to Senate, where the Democrats stopped it. Again.
And even if the Senate hadn't stopped the anti-Obamacare version of the bill, Obama would have with a presidential veto.
So why now? Because the government's fiscal calendar starts on Oct. 1. We know, weird! And if that bill is not passed by midnight, the government shuts down at 12:01a.m. The government is not allowed to spend money if Congress doesn't tell them they can.
(Crown = money.)
The first shutdown since 1995. There have been 17 shutdowns since 1977.
So what happens in a shutdown? People who work for the government will be divided into two groups, essential and non-essential. The non-essentials will be "furloughed." That means they won't work until the shutdown is over.
You may or may not feel the effects of the shutdown in your day-to-day life. But Obama says a shutdown lasting longer than a few weeks "would do significant economic damage."
And it won't stop Obamacare anyway. So...
Now, the clock is ticking...