Current Government Shutdown Threats, History of Shutdowns, and What Happens During a Shutdown

By the end of January, hundreds of thousands of workers may be unemployed or unpaid. In recent months, President Trump’s wall has stirred up another storm of previously-settled issues between the Republican and Democratic sides of the government. Rejecting bipartisan proposals left and right, Mr. Trump has stuck to his plan of ridding the U.S. of its twelve and a half million illegal immigrants as well as building the wall that was the driving force in his run for presidency. Many bipartisan bills were presented to help come to an agreement between the two parties, but Mr. Trump stuck strictly to the Republican side, refusing to pass the bills that had potential to mend any wounds caused by these disagreements.

Starting with the cancellation of DACA, or the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, Democratic and Republican ideals have clashed over the spending of federal funds. Republicans, along with Mr. Trump, have aimed to spend the funds on border security, more officers to protect the United States against illegal immigration, and the removal of illegal immigrants in the U.S. Democrats have asked be provided with an equal amount of money to help the illegally immigrated children that were previously a part of the DREAM act.

DACA was an organization that helped these children become integrated as citizens of the United States, allowing them to lead their lives without worries of being deported. This was formed by an executive order from former president Barack Obama in 2012. There were nearly eight hundred thousand recipients of DACA who had been living in the U.S. since 2007. Though they were protected from immediate deportation, it did not mean that they had citizenship. From the start, many Republicans and some Democrats thought that the president (Barack Obama, at the time) could not wave off immigration laws. Eventually, the Trump administration did dismantle DACA and the Dreamers.

Trump specifically demanded funds for the wall, asking for eighteen billion to bring his ideas to life. This is when the shutdown of the government became a possibility, after he stated that “The reason for the plan negotiated between the Republicans and Democrats is that we need 60 votes in the Senate which are not there! We either elect more Republican Senators in 2018 or change the rules now to 51%. Our country needs a good “shutdown” in September to fix mess!” Congress feared this potential shutdown, passing a stopgap that lengthened the government funding cutoff until January 19th. “The fact of the matter is, it’s Christmas, and we don’t need to be shutting the government down. I mean, that’s a horrible optic,” said Republican Roger Williams, who supported long term military spending (another plan an the Republican spending list), but who also agreed with the stopgap plan.

A similar situation took place in 2013, when the government shut down for sixteen days after Congress could not agree on a budget for the government revenue year. During this time, nearly eight hundred thousand federal employees were out of work without pay while another million workers had their paychecks delayed. National parks were closed, which add roughly seventy six million dollars to the national economy every day. In the end, the cost of the shutdown was twenty four billion.

For the current situation, there is no way to tell how long the shutdown could last. If it occurs, the shutdown will end when Congressional leaders from both parties come to an agreement on the funding plan for the new year. Based off of recent events in Congress, the agreement may take a while to come to. Knowing this, there has also never been a shutdown over a month long. In fact, the longest shutdown was twenty one days. A dangerous side-effect of a shutdown is the cease of “nonessential services”, meaning anyone who works at museums, monuments, and national parks would be told to leave their job. For instance, in the 2013 shutdown, eight hundred and fifty thousand workers were furloughed a day. Federal employees still maintain a job, but they are never sure when they will receive any money for it. Air travel is still available to all, but passport applications may not be processed.

Though most government shutdowns have usual events, there is really no saying what will happen after January 19th of 2017. With the recently unstable Congress and POTUS, the government closing its doors could solve problems or simply delay them for a few days. With a rocky start of the new year, U.S. citizens can only hope that it won’t result in disaster.

by Angelo Reis

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