Updated: Aug 24, 2019
By STEPHANIE SEWAKED
Is it me or is history repeating itself a little too quickly? In January 2018, the U.S. government briefly shut down for three days due to lack of bipartisanship over immigration policy. As of Jan. 20, we are on the 30th day of our current government shutdown — the longest in American history, for similar reasons to the previous shutdown but on the financial side this time.
When the government shuts down it means all nonessential federal agencies are closed until a new funding legislation is signed and passed into law.
Federal employees are most directly affected by the shutdown but all citizens will be affected one way or another. The biggest impact of the shutdown are tax refunds delayed, food stamps may run out of funding in March, rental assistance running out of money, and TSA workers are calling out sick more frequently.
There are reportedly 800,000 federal employees furloughed until further notice. When the government ends the shutdown, federal employees will receive back pay to make up for free labor. Americans are slowly starting to feel the consequences of the shutdown in their everyday lives, from being stuck in ridiculously long airport security lines to the Coast Guard personnel joining the rest of the furloughed federal employees.
This shutdown came when Congress would not approve a bill that would fund the wall along the southern border of the U.S., a campaign promise that President Trump promised his supporters. Trump also promised Mexico would provide funding for the wall when it was first proposed. While that inevitably fell through, Trump then demanded $5.7 billion in funding for the wall, which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other democrats are refusing to give – creating an even deeper divide between political parties.
The Democrats argue the wall will be costly and ineffective while Republicans are pushing for heavier border security. The fiasco is turning into a tit-for-tat between the President and Congress. Trump canceled a flight arranged for Pelosi and other democratic lawmakers headed to Afghanistan, stating the shutdown will not permit Congressional traveling by any government owned or leased aircraft unless granted permission prior. Pelosi’s team responded by saying they have postponed their trip due to information leaked compromising locations of government officials and our military. This caused even more controversy as hours later, First Lady Melania Trump boarded a government aircraft to fly to Trump’s Florida Mar-a-Lago resort.
The standoff usually ends when either the President or Congress gives in to demands or crumbles under the intense pressure from the public. This shutdown is being called a, “self-inflicted wound” by JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon and also a negative impact on the economy. We can only hope the stand-off between the two parties can come to an end by focusing on the betterment of the American people, rather than competing for authority.
NOTE: President Trump agreed on Jan. 25 to end the government shutdown until Feb. 15.