The word civics is a "noun" and defined as "the study or science of the privileges and obligations of citizens." Yes, as a USA citizen, you need to know your civics today.
You should understand that the Republican Party does not control our government today, but in reality it's the Senate that operates under a self-imposed filibuster rule requiring 60 votes to act. It means that senators representing 11 percent of the national population can veto laws supported by senators representing 89 percent of the population, as of April 24, 2013. It means that legislation (or a bill) cannot be enacted unless 60 senators agree that the Senate can vote to pass the bill by a majority of the senators voting. If everyone is present today, it takes 51 votes or 50 votes if the vice president votes to break the tie.
Therefore, don't believe the news media that loudly reports the Republicans are responsible for the three top seats of government - executive, House and Senate. What's true is the government really is dependent on the actions of our Senate, with the Republicans having only 51 senators and Democrats having 49 senators.
Any government shutdown is owned by both parties, but today in the hands of Democrats due to Senate 60-vote rule abuse of democracy.