• U.S. Government Shutdown: A Gym Towel Crisis?

    by Lifeboat Admin ,


    Last October, the U.S. Government made headlines for shutting down. The government shutdown occurred from October 1 through October 16 because Congress did not enact legislation appropriating funds or a continuing resolution for the interim authorisation of appropriations for the 2014 fiscal year. Towels (or gym towels to be specific) played an unexpected starring role in the many news reports during that time period.


    Iowa congressman Bruce Braley got the ball (towel?) rolling, when appearing on "The Bill Press Show." Representative Braley was asked about why the U.S. House gymnasium was still open, despite the shutdown. He explained that it was 'one of the few places where Republicans and Democrats still talk to each other.' Unfortunately for Braley, the conversation did not end there.



    After the reporter pressed the issue, Braley said, "There's hardly anybody working down there. There's no towel service. We're doing our own laundry down there. And we pay a fee to belong to the House gym."


    Needless to say, the press had a field day with Braley's comments, accusing him of being out of touch with what was going on with the American people. That is because the shutdown did more than interrupt towel service at the House gym.


    Almost 800,000 federal employees were furloughed during the shutdown and an additional 1.3 million Americans were required to work without knowing when they would be paid. It ended up being the third longest government shutdown in U.S. history, behind the 21-day shutdown of 1996 and the 18-day shutdown of 1978.


    Americans were frustrated long before Representative Braley made the insensitive remarks about the lack of towel service. According to the numbers from financial service company Standard & Poor's, the 16-day shutdown cost the U.S. economy $24 billion and 'reduced projected fourth-quarter GDP growth from 3 percent to 2.4 percent.'


    "Congressman Upset about No Gym Towels"

    "Democratic Congressman Whines about Towel Service"

    "Being Bruce Braley (no towel service)"


    The towel-related headlines continued for days. All joking aside, here is a rundown of the U.S. Government shutdown timeline:


    20 September 2013

    Republican-led Congress demands president defund 2010 Affordable Care Act in exchange for voting to keep government funded through 15 December 2013.


    24-25 September 2013

    Texas Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican, makes a speech that lasts 21 hours as he warns of a shutdown if Democrats do not meet demands.


    27 September 2013

    Democratic-led Senate rejects defunding bill and sends it back to the House.


    29 September 2013

    The House edits demands to a delay of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act for one year.


    30 September 2013

    Senate rejects new proposal and Bill returns to House once again. The House demands that the president require Congress and staff to pay unsubsidised health insurance costs. Once again this is rejected.


    The next day, the shutdown began, and clean towels began to disappear at the House gym. Thankfully the shutdown ended on 16 October and federal employees were able to return to work, and get back to the laundry.

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