State of the Union: The government shutdown and how it’s affecting Americans everywhere

State of the Union: The government shutdown and how it's affecting Americans everywhere

Update 1/27:

The government shutdown ended on January 25, 2019 when President Donald Trump signed a resolution that will fund the government until February 15, without any money allocated for the border wall. In return, the Democrats agreed to join a bipartisan committee on border security legislation.

The government has resumed all services and federal employees are once again receiving pay. The wall along the U.S.-Mexico border may be reconsidered after February 15. 

For 35 days and counting, the government has been at a standstill. About 800,000 federal employees are currently working without pay, the number of rangers and forest firefighters in national parks have dramatically thinned, and due to the rising amount of furloughed Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents, security lines in airports–including the world’s busiest, Hartsfield-Jackson–now take up to an hour to get through.


In other words, America is currently in a government shutdown, brought on by a disagreement between President Donald Trump and Congress (including a majority Democratic House of Representatives) over the national budget.


At the end of last year, the Senate was scrambling to add the finishing touches to the budget for the 2019 fiscal year.  However, issues arose as President Trump called for the spending bill to allot at least $5.7 billion to fund his infamous border wall along the United State’s border with Mexico. When the president and the Senate did not reach an agreement by Dec. 21, 2018, the government shut down.


Just because the government is shut down, however, doesn’t mean there is no working government at all. Law enforcement is still in operation–though several of its officers are currently working without a paycheck–and the United States Postal Service (USPS) continues to deliver your daily mail.


This being said, without a cemented federal budget to dictate how much of the country’s money is going to each area, several national departments–including the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice–have been forced to send workers on leave, or to employ workers without pay. The shutdown has also affected a myriad of agencies as well, such as the Environmental Protection Agency and NASA.


Considering the current shutdown is the longest in U.S. history, surpassing the government shutdown under the Clinton Administration that lasted 21 days, many workers are worn out. According to this article published in the New York Times, many TSA agents are even “considering quitting because of financial hardship.”


“I’m concerned that people are going without their checks and that it’s putting undue hardship on them,” says an anonymous federal employee. “I think it’s impacting how they do their jobs everyday, because they’re so worried about how they’re going to take care of their families.”


So, if the shutdown is causing so many problems, how will it come to an end? Unfortunately, there’s no certain answer. Prior to last Saturday, the only solution to reopen the government was for either President Trump or Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to cave–that is, for President Trump to go without funding for his border wall, or for Speaker Pelosi to allocate the requested funds.


However, on Jan. 19, President Trump offered a compromise in order to bring the shutdown to an end. In this televised White House address, President Trump stated that he would extend a three-year protection to “700,000 immigrants who came to the country illegally as children and were shielded from deportation under the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.”


The Congress’s response to this compromise is still pending, yet it remains the first–and only–step taken towards reopening the government since the shutdown began last December.


“Both parties have painted themselves into a corner where they feel like, ‘Well, I’m not gonna budge,’ because they feel like they have some political gain out of it,” says the aforementioned federal employee about the current partisan gridlock on Capitol Hill. “But people are hurting while they’re trying to gain this political advantage.”


Needless to say, with over 800,000 families going for weeks without a paycheck, the American people need a resolution, and they need a resolution quickly.

Image: Beacon News