Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- During the debate around spending, many words and terms are being thrown around.
You'll hear and read words like "shutdown," "fiscal cliff," "debt ceiling," and "healthcare law." But what's the actually at stake in the current debate?
"The problem is that the federal budget hasn't been passed, so we're waiting for a budget," said Mark Tompkins, a political scientist at the University of South Carolina.
Tompkins said without that budget, the U.S. government will not have the money set aside to pay its bills.
"While we don't have a budget," Tompkins said "a number of federal employees aren't getting paid. The result of that is a number of federal agencies are shutdown, not delivering services that they ordinarily would."
The disagreements between Democrats and Republicans leading up to the shutdown is linked to gridlock and President Barack Obama's healthcare law.
"They're now looking around for something symbolic that they can do," Tompkins said.
Another issue facing Congress is an Oct. 17 deadline known as the debt ceiling.
"We have a limit on how much the federal government can borrow, and for many years, the president and the Congress have periodically raised that limit.," Tompkins said. "We're now bumping up against the current limit."
According to Tompkins, both sides may be slow to agree because of over $80 billion in cuts that took place earlier this year known as sequester.
That means Democrats believe they've already compromised, and Republicans believe they've compromised as well.
"Democrats have said, in a number of ways, 'we've already compromised, and now [Republicans] come in with these new demands, and it's time for us to come together and move forward,'" Tompkins said.
"Republicans have been loathed to compromise and so this seems to be the point at which we're going to bring these things together," Tompkins said.
Because the Midlands is filled with military and federal buildings, Tompkins said the impact here is already leaving a mark.
"Federal government is an important part of the Midlands economy in many ways," Tompkins said. "Not just Ft. Jackson. Think about the Veterans Administration, the VA hospital, and so on."