Federal Government Shutdown Continues

Posted by on Jan 8, 2019 in Government, Top Stories

You’ve probably heard about the partial government shutdown that’s been going on since December 20. And with good reason: it’s one of the longest-running federal government shutdowns in history. But what does it really mean when the federal government shuts down? Who is impacted? And how soon will it be re-opened again?

What Exactly Is a Government Shut-Down?

The federal government shuts down when lawmakers can’t come to an agreement on a budget. Basically, without a workable budget, there is no agreement on how the money will be spent, and without money, the various departments of the federal government can’t run.

So how does this affect the average American? With the federal government shut down, many of the everyday services we rely on disappear. For example, the national parks remain open, but without staff, trash cans and restrooms are overflowing, and no rangers are available to assist if people are lost or injured while in the parks.

Another example is the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The shutdown may cause federal tax refunds–which many Americans depend on to help pay their bills–to be delayed. And without paid staff at the Food and Drug Administration, important food safety inspections may not take place. In all, about 800,000 federal employees are going without pay right now.

So How Did This Happen?

The basic issue at stake with this shutdown is immigration and border security. Back in December, when forming the 2019 budget, President Trump demanded $5.6 billion in funding for the promised border wall between the U.S. and Mexico. But Democrats refused to provide more than the $1.3 billion previously agreed upon to fund border security in general (not just to be used on wall construction).

Later in December, Democrats proposed a spending bill that would keep the government open temporarily. But the bill only allowed for the initial $1.3 billion for border security, not the $5.6 billion Trump wanted. So on December 20, Trump refused to sign the spending bill. Without specific legislative authorization to spend money, the federal government has been shut down ever since.

Some members of the White House administration have indicated that they are now willing to consider spending less money on the wall. Others, such as Republican Senator Lindsay Graham, have even stated that the wall is not a real thing, but rather a metaphor for border security in general.

The president, however, has shunned these attempts at compromise and has dug in his heels. He keeps insisting on the full $5.6 billion funding package for “The Wall.”

When Will the Shutdown End?

The federal government will remain closed until Congress and the president can reach an agreement on a spending bill. Unfortunately, Trump and the Democrats are not showing a sign of compromise. Trump has stated that he will not compromise on an issue as critical as border security, and that he is willing to keep the federal government closed for months, or even years, if necessary. The Democrats are hoping to use this to solidy their own party support in resistance against the president’s immigration policies and funding priorities.

Dig Deeper The longest government shutdown in history lasted 21 days and occurred in 1995-1996. What was the issue that time? How was it resolved?