federal government

Photo Credit: Chris Foxx | Daily Texan Staff

Over the past couple of decades, Austin’s population has grown enormously. This has forced many city residents to engage in the ever-frustrating sport of house hunting. However, it seems that most Austin residents are eventually able to find a desirable living space — excluding, unfortunately, those with housing vouchers. 

To provide a little context, the Housing Authority of the City of Austin provides housing vouchers, funded by the federal government under the “Section 8 Program,” to residents who earn less than 50 percent of Austin’s median income. These vouchers are meant to help lower-income residents pay for rent without overwhelming them financially. Because of this, residents with vouchers are supposed to have a greater choice of places to live. The Housing Authority’s own website boasts that it helps 5,100 families a month afford safer and better housing. 

At least, this is how it’s supposed to work. Regrettably, many homeowners and rental apartment complexes have refused to accept vouchers. Therefore, even those who had received vouchers were forced to stay in the same lower-income areas from which they had hoped to escape. Due to many landlords’ refusal to rent to tenants using vouchers, the program was ineffective in preventing concentrations of poverty in Austin. 

Last April, there was an apparent breakthrough when the Austin City Council decided that landlords couldn’t discriminate against potential tenants on the basis of whether or not they use housing vouchers. The ordinance was passed in December, but U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks ruled to temporarily stop enforcement of it in early January after the Austin Apartments Association challenged it in court.  A hearing Jan. 26 allowed supporters and opponents of the ordinance to present evidence and make their case. Sparks announced that he would decide in the next couple of weeks whether or not to order that the ordinance be stopped indefinitely. 

Sparks, who was nominated to the bench by President George H. W. Bush, stated at the hearing that he was concerned that the ordinance was “an act of bullying” toward landlords. Sparks’ concern in this regard is misplaced. In fact, at least 12 states and 30 local jurisdictions have enacted provisions prohibiting landlords from discriminating against tenants based on their source of income, according to a 2014 Austin Chronicle article. Far from being bullying, the City Council’s action on this issue reflects sound and mainstream public policy aimed at integrating the less fortunate into the wider community.     

The real problem in this matter is not the ordinance but the attitudes of landlords that made the ordinance necessary. According to a 2012 survey by the Austin Tenants Council, fewer than 10 percent of Austin landlords accepted Section 8 vouchers. Surely the refusal to accept Section 8 vouchers is based mostly on stereotypes that demonize lower-income families. It is an understatement to say that it is unfair to discriminate against families who want safer or more convenient housing simply based on their method of payment.  

In general, the pattern of debate on this issue seems to be that liberals support the ordinance whereas conservatives wish to strike it down.  Indeed, a conservative Republican state Senator, Charles Perry, recently introduced a bill in the Texas Senate that would prohibit local communities from enacting ordinances requiring landlords to lease to tenants who pay with housing vouchers. This stance by Perry is confusing.  Housing vouchers are a way for poorer residents to afford better housing for themselves and their families. This also has the effect of providing them with more employment, educational and social opportunities throughout the city.  If conservatives like Perry truly believed in empowering individuals instead of the government, they wouldn’t oppose measures like the Austin ordinance which seek to maximize the opportunities for low-income individuals and families to move up the economic ladder. We certainly don’t have all the answers, and there are undoubtedly legal nuances for Judge Sparks to navigate. However, it seems obvious to us that everyone deserves a chance to enjoy the opportunities Austin offers, not just “bullied” landlords. 

Dolan is a journalism sophomore from Abilene. Follow Dolan on Twitter @mimimdolan.

Photo Credit: Madison Richards | Daily Texan Staff

Kathleen Merrigan, Former USDA Agriculture Deputy Secretary, said at a lecture on campus Wednesday that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program was one of the most successful products of the U.S. Department of Agriculture under the Obama administration.

During the lecture, hosted by the LBJ School of Public Affairs, Merrigan — who worked for the USDA from 2009 to 2013 as the deputy secretary and the chief operating officer — said the Obama administration has done an “above-average” job to avoid improper payments. 

“An improper payment can be giving more money than someone deserves, or less money than someone deserves — that’s the definition of improper payments in government,” Merrigan said. “They are doing really, really great, and, at the same time, doing better outreach in the program.”

The SNAP program, formerly known as food stamps, serves approximately 47 million people in the United States, according to the Washington Post. Merrigan said the federal government aims to have less than a 4 percent error rate when avoiding improper payments. She said the SNAP program currently has an error rate of 3.8 percent.

Although Merrigan praised the way the USDA executed the SNAP program, she listed what she believed to be failures by the department. Among these was ensuring that there was an adequate amount of competition in the agricultural market.

Rajeev Patel, who is a research professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, also spoke at the lecture. He said he believes it is important to remember the circumstances in which the Obama administration was formed in context to the country’s approach to food topics. He said the department’s relationship with the private sector is something that should be taken into account when discussing the administration’s approach.

“Often, it’s forgotten that while the beneficiaries of SNAP are invariably poor people in the United States … it’s also important to remember that one of the largest beneficiaries of SNAP is Walmart,” Patel said. “18 percent of the $80 billion spent on SNAP is spent at Walmart.”

Public affairs graduate student Cristian Villalobos, who attended the lecture, said he believes the USDA should focus on educating parents on proper nutrition for children in the first 1,000 days of life. According to Villalobos, SNAP has been one of the more crucial programs since the recession in 2009.

“On a public perception level, it seems to have less of a stigma than other forms of welfare,” Villalobos said. “SNAP seems to be less politicized and conflated as a burden to the government.”

Merrigan said she believes there was an effort underway nationally to vilify the traditional SNAP beneficiary, driven by Republican budget cutting purposes.

“We were really trying to protect the image of the SNAP recipient and to maintain their dignity,” Merrigan said. “There was a notion that poor people can’t take care of themselves, and we tried to push back.”

Photo Credit: Albert Lee | Daily Texan Staff

We live in a time when everything seems too big or too small. We are told that the federal government is too big, too bureaucratic and too threatening to individual liberties. The same critics say that our military is too small, our oil pipelines are too limited and our economic growth is too constrained. People want houses that are bigger than ever before, but they want them to feel small and cozy. They drive hulking trucks while demanding the fuel efficiency and light carbon footprint of small cars. 

The same contradictions characterize international politics today. The majority of citizens in Scotland voted last week to remain part of Great Britain, but 45 percent said they wished to secede. Many of those who voted to stay in the union agreed that the political institutions based in London were too big and too threatening to Scottish freedom. The fact that Scots receive more money from London than they pay in did not deter this argument about alleged repression. At the same time, many advocates of independence believe that Scotland should join an even larger set of institutions: the European Union. They like the trade and currency benefits that could come from integrating their economy more closely with the continent. Many Scots want to be small and big simultaneously. 

The Middle East has more tragic examples of the same phenomenon. Sunni extremists in Syria and Iraq want to free themselves from these big, oppressive states, but they call for an even bigger state (a “caliphate”), and they are killing thousands of people who want neither the old states nor the new caliphate. The Kurds show similar, although far less violent, inclinations. They want to free themselves from Iraq, Iran and Turkey, but they are intent on creating a larger Kurdistan. They want to be smaller and bigger, too.

So what is the correct size for political authority? How can we build institutions that ensure local freedoms but still nurture the strength and diversity of large numbers? How do we preserve the specificity of small with the benefits of big? 

The founders of the United States thought about these precise issues. Their innovative solution was what we call “federalism”: the belief that big and small powers should be mixed in the same government. According to this system, the United States was to have a series of nested political institutions — nation, state, county and town — that would exercise overlapping authorities for taxation, infrastructure and security. From Congress to the county board, representative bodies of different sizes would share power, working together at times, checking each other more often. The founders believed that this kind of mixed system would allow big and small to coexist for the sake of building a strong nation that protected local freedoms. 

Great Britain, many states in Europe and most regimes in the Middle East are highly centralized. They have unchallenged national powers that make governing simpler, but also less responsive to local needs. In an age when media often magnify ethnic and cultural cleavages, they would benefit from implementing the kinds of federal reforms that empower more local governance, on the model of the United States, as well as Germany, Mexico and India. Messy, divided federalist authorities have a better historical track record for national unity and citizen freedom than other alternatives, especially secession.

Federalist systems, like the United States, would also do well to re-examine the other side of the equation. Politicians spend so much time condemning national leadership these days, especially in Texas, that we forget how important central authority remains in a government of mixed powers. Washington, D.C., protects our national safety, it regulates our financial system and it provides the funding for basic research, emergency relief and social security, among many other things. We would be a less prosperous and peaceful society without a strong national government. Big government, balanced by local authorities, has historically contributed to American freedom.

The appropriate debate, then, is not between big and small. Secession for Scotland would not make things better for the Scots. Nor would bigger states in the Middle East solve the problems of factional warfare. Good politics balance big and small, central and local. The correct balance is not formulaic. It changes over time.

The task we face today — at home and abroad — is to rethink how we can get the most from national, state and local authorities. Instead of recrimination and name-calling, we need more creative mixing. Effective politics are about building institutions that are neither too big nor too small. Democracy needs many young Goldilocks-inspired thinkers to help us find the sizes and shapes that are “just right.”  

Suri is a professor in the LBJ School of Public Affairs and the Department of History.

Photo Credit: AP Exchange | Daily Texan Staff

Gov. Rick Perry announced on Monday he will deploy 1,000 state National Guard troops to the Texas-Mexico border.

According to a statement issued by Perry’s office, the troops will work alongside and support Texas Department of Public Safety officers as part of an initiative started in 2013, known as Operation Strong Safety, to combat “criminal activity in the region resulting from the federal government's failure to adequately secure the border.”

Perry said at a press conference Monday that criminals are exploiting the burden on border security caused by the surge of tens of thousands unaccompanied children migrating from Central America.

“The action I am ordering today will tackle this crisis head-on by multiplying our efforts to combat the cartel activity, human traffickers and individual criminals who threaten the safety of people across Texas and America,” Perry said in the statement.

At a meeting with President Barack Obama in early July, Perry asked the president to federally fund the deployment of 1,000 National Guard troops to the border until 3,000 border patrol agents could be sent to address the border crisis.

Denise Gilman, clinical professor at the School of Law and co-director of the school’s Immigration Clinic, said the National Guard cannot legally arrest or detain migrants or otherwise be involved in law enforcement.

“The deployment will not improve the situation at the border,” Gilman said in an email to The Daily Texan. “It is a costly symbolic gesture that will have little practical effect other than to promote an image of the humanitarian situation at the border as a national security crisis, which it is not.”

Max Patterson, history senior and University Democrats president, said he thinks Perry is trying to address a larger audience with this policy.

“I really thought it was not just a misguided action but more of a political move to appeal to his base nationally rather than face the humanitarian crisis of children coming across the border,” Patterson said. “What we need is not more boots on the ground.”

The University’s College Republicans chapter did not comment on the surge of National Guard troops to the border.

While both the president and the governor are authorized to station troops at the border, the state will spend $12 million a month of state money to fund the deployment. At Monday’s press conference, Perry and other state leaders said they expect the federal government to reimburse these costs.

Gilman said these resources should be invested in areas other than border enforcement.

“[They] should be directed to improving detention conditions for children and adults and to improving the immigration court adjudication process so that all migrants can have full due process and an opportunity to present their claims in a reasonable time period,” Gilman said. 

U.S. President Lyndon Johnson passes out some of the 72 pens he used to sign the civil rights bill in Washington D.C. on July 2, 1964. From left standing are, Rep. Roland Libobati (D-Ill.), Rep. Peter Rodino (D-N.J.), Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Rep. Emmanuel Celler (D-N.Y.) and Whitney Young, executive director of the National Urban League. 

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

This week’s Civil Rights Summit, sponsored by the LBJ Library, marks the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. That act, together with the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Fair Housing Act of 1968, transformed American law and society by outlawing discrimination in the workplace, in the voting booth and in housing.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 had two main provisions — a ban on discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex and national origin in public accommodations such as restaurants, hotels, theaters and retail stores (Title II), and a ban on discrimination in the hiring, promotion and firing of workers (Title VII). The act also included provisions for enforcing Title VII in the form of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Before this act, employers and the owners of private establishments enjoyed the implicit approval of the federal government when they denied certain groups the privileges enjoyed by white men. During World War II, in some parts of the South, restaurant owners served meals to German prisoners of war who were being transported in the custody of American military officials but refused service to the black GIs who guarded those prisoners. Until 1964, employers routinely ran ads for job openings that said “no Negroes” or “no women” need apply. Many people of color, regardless of their formal education, could not aspire to high-paying jobs in law, business or education. African-Americans and Mexican-Americans remained confined to the most dangerous and disagreeable jobs in certain industries and excluded from whole categories of employment. White women inhabited a “pink collar ghetto” composed of elementary school teachers, nurses and secretaries and other clerical workers.

President Lyndon B. Johnson’s role in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 looms large. In the months following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Johnson committed his formidable legislative prowess to bringing to a vote a measure that Kennedy had proposed in the summer of 1963. Johnson enlisted civil rights activists, journalists and other allies, and he personally cajoled, intimidated, threatened and pleaded with members of Congress, Democrats and Republicans alike.  He believed that, as chief executive, he need not apologize for his commitment to legislation that would make the U.S. a more fair and just society: “Well, what the hell’s the presidency for?” he demanded to know.

Yet Johnson’s moral convictions, combined with his strong-armed tactics, do not fully account for the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The president and other white Americans were moved by the courage of civil rights activists throughout the South — men, women and children who suffered beatings at the hands of angry mobs, the full force of water cannons deployed by local police and even murder by KKK members and other vigilantes and domestic terrorists. Freedom Riders, participants in lunch counter sit-ins and peaceful demonstrators, prodded Kennedy, and then Johnson and Congress, to act.

The effects of the 1964 act were uneven. Well-educated people of color and white women were arguably the most immediate and obvious beneficiaries of the new law. Between 1960 and 1980, the percentage of black women in clerical work tripled, and women of all races had greater access to jobs such as truck driving and coal mining,  which were previously all-male positions. Still, employers continued to assign blacks and other minorities to menial jobs, and union seniority and apprenticeship rules continued to work against the interests of job-seekers who weren’t white males. In 1974, the chronically understaffed and underfunded Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was staggering under the weight of 57,000 complaints of discrimination in the workplace.

Civil rights legislation also affected the nation’s political landscape. When he signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law, Johnson reportedly told his young Texas aide Bill Moyers something to the effect of, “There goes the South.” He was correct in predicting that the white South would desert the Democratic Party, although that transition did not become fully apparent until the 1980s, and it shows no sign of reversing itself in the near future.

Today, some observers hail what they call a “colorblind” society — one with a level playing field for all workers and voters. Yet the corrosive effects of centuries of slavery, discrimination and segregation remain very much in evidence, with high rates of concentrated poverty among minority populations. For many Americans, the place where they live is a signifier of the rights they enjoy, with poor people lacking access to quality public education, safe neighborhoods and decent health care.

What lessons does the Civil Rights Act of 1964 hold for us today? First, it is apparent that the 14th and 15th amendments to the constitution granting the former male slaves citizenship and voting rights were insufficient to guarantee them and their descendants those rights in practice.

Not until after World War II would the dramatic and peaceful protests of an aggrieved minority pierce the conscience of the nation and lead to decisive action among the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the federal government. Johnson’s bold determination demonstrated what a chief executive could accomplish, with the right combination of moral outrage and legislative arm-twisting. And finally, we are reminded that throughout American history the federal government, albeit haltingly and imperfectly, has initiated some of the most significant measures promoting fairness and justice — the destruction of slavery, the enfranchisement of former slaves and women, the elimination of universal poverty among the elderly and the outlawing of egregious forms of discrimination in the workplace, in voting and in housing. The 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is without a doubt a cause for celebration among all Americans, and it is most fitting that four presidents are gathering at the LBJ Library to lead us in that celebration.

Jones is the Walter Prescott Webb chair in history and ideas and the Mastin Gentry White professor of Southern history.

Photo Credit: Chelsea Purgahn | Daily Texan Staff

Updated (Thursday 4:12 p.m.): One day after U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia ruled Texas' ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, the state of Texas filed a notice of appeal in federal court contesting Orlando's ruling.

Texas attorney general Greg Abbott, the presumptive Republican candidate for governor, and current governor Rick Perry were both named as defendants in the appeal, as well as David Lakey, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services. 

In a statement released Wednesday, Abbott announced his intentions to appeal the ruling and said the case would ultimately go to a higher court.

"Texas will begin [the process] by appealing today's ruling to the Fifth Circuit," Abbott said in the statement. "The ultimate decision about Texas law will be made by the Court of Appeals or the U.S. Supreme Court."

Abbott said ultimately, he believes defining marriage is up to individual states to decide.

"The Supreme Court has ruled over and over that States have the authority to define and regulate marriage," Abbott said. "The Texas constitution defines marriage as between one man and one woman. If the Fifth Circuit honors those precedents, then today's decision should be overturned and the Texas Constitution will be upheld." 

Original story (Wednesday 2:32 p.m.): On Wednesday, San Antonio-based U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia ruled a ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, though the ruling will not take effect until it can be reviewed on appeal.

Garcia, who sits on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, said his decision is consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June that held the federal government must allow married same-sex couples to receive federal benefits.

“After careful consideration, and applying the law as it must, this Court holds that Texas’ prohibition on same-sex marriage conflicts with the United States Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection and due process,” Garcia said. “Texas’ current marriage laws deny homosexual couples the right to marry, and, in doing so, demean their dignity for no legitimate reason.”

The case was put forth by Cleopatra De Leon and Nicole Dimetman, two lesbian women from Austin who sought recognition for an out-of-state marriage license, and Mark Phariss and Victor Holmes, two gay men from Plano who want to get married in Texas. De Leon got her master’s degree from UT-San Antonio, while Dimetman is an alumna of the UT School of Law.

Garcia now joins five other federal judges who have ruled same-sex marriage bans unconstitutional in Virginia, Oklahoma, Utah, California and Kentucky.

Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge John Heyburn ruled that Kentucky’s state ban on gay marriage violated gay and lesbian citizens’ guarantee for equal protection under the law.

“Kentucky’s laws treat gay and lesbian persons differently in a way that demeans them,” Heyburn wrote in his opinion.

In Virginia, Justice Arenda Wright Allen also overturned the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. Like Garcia, Allen stayed the execution of her ruling pending review in an appeals court.

In June, in a 5-4, the Supreme Court overturned a part of the Defense of Marriage Act and ruled the federal government could not deny recognition to same-sex couples whose marriages are legally recognized by the state.

According Greg Abbott, Texas attorney general and favorite to be the Republican nominee for governor, the process to appeal Garcia’s decision will begin in the Fifth Circuit.

“Because the judge has stayed his own decision, his ruling has no immediate practical effect,” Abbott said in a statement. “Instead, the ultimate decision about Texas law will be made by the Court of Appeals or the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Abbott said the U.S. Supreme Court’s precedent gives states the authority to regulate marriage.

“The Texas Constitution defines marriage as between one man and one woman,” Abbott said. “If the Fifth Circuit honors those precedents, then today’s decision should be overturned and the Texas Constitution will be upheld.”

West Texas resident Carolanne Kocain begins to choke up as she retells her story about surviving the explosion to a reporter on the phone. Furniture and belongings lay scattered across her lawn as construction workers worked to board the windows and doors of her home. 

Photo Credit: Pu Ying Huang | Daily Texan Staff

It’s been just over six months since an explosion at a fertilizer plant in West wiped out much of the town. While massive rebuilding efforts have been undertaken, the town has a long way to go before it’s back to normal.

Rebuilding is an important step, for both the economic and emotional well-being of West, but what can be done to prevent such a disaster from happening again? A team of federal investigators has been dispatched to West the study the causes of the April disaster and issue a list of recommendations by Friday, but its work was delayed for several weeks when the federal government shutdown forced the U.S. Chemical Safety Board to furlough 37 of its 41 employees.

Luckily, they’re not the only ones looking for solutions. We’re glad to see others coming forward with ideas for how to keep communities like West safe. Some are obvious, while others aren’t, but they’re all worthy of serious consideration. 

One of the less obvious suggestions comes from David South, president of Monolithic, a company in the town of Italy, between Waco and Dallas. As NPR’s StateImpact reported Monday, South believes fertilizer plants should look at the shape of their storage containers. According to South, domes are the answer because of the way they behave in explosions.

“If it does get exploded, it’ll blow the top off and vent the pressure up instead of out to the side,” South told StateImpact.

The idea that domes are especially stable structures has been given some legitimacy by the federal government. Recently, the Federal Emergency Management Agency began awarding grants for the construction of hurricane-shelter domes.

South’s idea sounds compelling, but it’s not the sort of thing that the average Joe could have come up with. Geometry aside, we were shocked to learn that highly flammable fertilizers are still often stored in wooden structures. According to a preliminary report on West by the CSB, “Wooden buildings are still the norm for the distribution of [ammonium nitrate] fertilizer across the U.S.” It shouldn’t take a team of specially-trained federal investigators to tell you that it’s best to keep such volatile materials well away from anything that can burn. It’s painfully obvious, but many, including Sam Mannan, director of Texas A&M’s Mary Kay O’Connor Process Safety Center, have rightly pointed out that it might not be a bad idea to store flammable chemicals in concrete buildings instead. 

We’re glad those outside the government are searching for answers to prevent another West from happening. This country needs solutions now, not later, so we should welcome ideas from all concerned parties. The deadliest industrial accident in U.S. history, in which nearly 600 people were killed in an explosion similar to the one in West, took place in Texas City more than 60 years ago. Shouldn’t we have learned our lesson from that and the many other tragedies like it since then? Why do we keep making the same mistakes over and over again?

It can’t be a problem of ignorance. We just simply can’t believe that the owners of the West plant had no idea how dangerous their storage methods were. Instead, it seems that they and others like them were more interested in saving money than protecting lives. It’s a common thread throughout U.S. history, but it’s one that needs to be cut now.

To do that, keep the ideas coming. Whether feasible or not, they’re our only hope if we wish to close this chapter in American history.

Editor’s note: This is the fifth in a weekly series in which The Daily Texan looks back at something it covered in its 113-year-old history.

One of the biggest competitions in party politics surfaces near the end of each fiscal year.

In a game of high-stakes political chicken, Republicans and Democrats stand firm in backing federal budget positions they may or may not support. This year, party leaders raised the stakes, pushing the federal government into its second-longest shutdown to date.

November 1981 saw the first-ever federal government shutdown under former President Ronald Reagan. The shutdown — a result of disagreements between Reagan, the House and the Senate regarding funding cuts to social programs and foreign aid — furloughed an estimated 400,000 federal government employees for half a day, according to two United Press International articles printed in The Daily Texan on Nov. 23 and 24. The Nov. 24 article called Reagan’s quick shutdown of nonessential government services a “dramatic gesture.”

Reagan signed a $400 million temporary funding bill on Nov. 23, ending the shutdown less than 12 hours after he vetoed a $427.9 million congressional compromise.

“Several members of Congress said approval of the three-week stopgap was as much a sign of Congress’ desire to go home for Thanksgiving holiday as it was a major win for Reagan,” the Nov. 24 article said.

Prior to 1980, government agencies’ nonessential duties were only minimized when the president and Congress failed to agree on an aspect of the federal budget, a period known as a funding gap. But in the early ’80s, Attorney General Benjamin Civiletti issued two interpretations of the 1870 Antideficiency Act — which had, up until that point, prohibited the government from spending more than was allotted in the budget. This led to the creation of government shutdowns, as the attorney general’s opinions asserted that, in accordance with the act, nonessential government agencies must be suspended during funding gaps.

In the 30 years since their inception, only a few shutdowns have occurred in the U.S. — the longest and most memorable being the December 1995 to January 1996 shutdown. In November 1995, the government shut down for six days because of disagreements between former President Bill Clinton, the House and the Senate about cuts to social program funding, including education cuts.

Tensions between the two parties manifested during the shutdown, with House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a Republican, claiming that Clinton’s mistreatment of him and Senate Minority Leader Bob Dole during a recent trip had contributed to the budget standoff, a Nov. 16 Daily Texan article said. Alternately, Democratic Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle blamed Gingrich.

“He wants chaos,” Daschle said of Gingrich in the article. “He wants collapse of the government, and now he’s got it.”

The November 1995 shutdown ended when Clinton and Congress agreed to attempt to balance the budget in seven years, continue debates about the budget and temporarily continue government agency funding in an agreement known as a continuing resolution.

The continuing resolution expired Dec. 15, and a second shutdown began — this time spanning 21 days. In January, Clinton and Congress agreed to a seven-year budget plan with modest spending cuts and tax increases. The shutdown came to a close at a cost to the Republican Party, which a majority of Americans blamed for the shutdown.

In this year’s shutdown Democrats and Republicans held tight to opposing agendas, resulting in a temporary extension on the debt limit and halt on the shutdown. So while the players may change over the years, results stemming from political differences many times don’t.

As the federal government shutdown heads into a second week, UT researchers find themselves missing grant submission deadlines and worrying about their prospects for funding in the next fiscal year.

Substantial amounts of research are funded every year by grants from federal agencies including the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and the Environmental Protection Agency.

In 2011, federal agencies awarded more than $154 million to UT researchers.

Though most funding comes through direct grants, cooperative and pass-through grants involving federal and state partnerships also play a role in the research funding process and all are affected by the government shutdown.

Because the review of grant applications is classified by the federal government as a nonessential operation, grant review has come to a complete halt.

“Many employees at the NIH have been furloughed and the agency is currently not processing new grant applications,” said John DiGiovanni, a cancer researcher and pharmacy and nutritional sciences professor.

Though Grants.gov, the federally maintained grant submission website, is remaining active through the shutdown with reduced staff and funding, no grant proposals will be downloaded from the site or reviewed.

“The grant submission process is really in suspense right now,” said John G. Ekerdt, associate dean for research in the Cockrell School of Engineering. “At this time, there’s no one to process grants and the sites for grant submission are down.” 

Despite the shutdown, which has brought the grant review process to a halt, grant money that has already been doled out is safe. Ekerdt said money already allocated by previous grants is in the hands of researchers and can be used without complication.

“No ongoing projects have been canceled because [of] funding issues from the government shutdown,” University spokesman Robert Meckel said.

Travel preparations and university-provided funding will also remain unaffected through the shutdown. The UT International Office is still processing passport applications to keep study and work abroad on track, and there are a variety of research opportunities through the University open to both graduate and undergraduate students.

But the government shutdown is just one aspect of larger funding issues that have been plaguing researchers for years, DiGiovanni said. Federal funding has been dwindling since the federal sequestration earlier this year, which DiGiovanni said affects the ability of the University to hire. 

“We’ve all been affected by the sequestration that took place earlier this year — it’s been hard on many of us that rely on grant money for our research and it’s caused funding cuts on top of already serious cuts to federal funding,” DiGiovanni said. “These cuts have seriously impacted our ability to hire and retain personnel and to make research progress.”

Correction: In the Oct. 8 edition of this article in The Daily Texan a reporting error was made.  Federal funding given to UT researchers was incorrectly reported as $154 billion. The correct amount is $154 million. This correction was run in the Oct. 9 edition of The Daily Texan.

Photo Credit: Jonathan Garza | Daily Texan Staff

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.