What you Need to Know about the Government Shutdown
On December 21, 2018, the United States Government entered a partial shutdown to allow Donald Trump, along with Congress, to make a decision about the potential wall on the United States-Mexico border.
During his campaign and throughout his term as president, Donald Trump has championed for the construction of a wall between Mexico and the United States. Trump predicts that it will reduce the number of illegal immigrants entering the US. If it is built, it will cost the government about five billion dollars. There have been many disagreements between the White House and Congress about how or if the funding should be drawn from citizens or from government organizations. Many members of Congress, especially Democrats, have voiced their opposition against the border wall, and many believe the five billion dollars could go to something more beneficial to US citizens.
While the decision is being made, President Trump decided to initiate a government shutdown on December 21. While this terminology may seem extreme, the shutdown only caused 9 out of 15 government departments along with many government organizations to be shut down. These include the National Parks, IRS, FBI, Coast Guard, and Department of Homeland Security among many others. More than 420,000 government employees are currently working without pay, and more than 380,000 are on unpaid leave. In National Parks, a lack of maintenance has caused them to become riddled with trash or toilets to overflow. However, some agencies remain operational such as the TSA and USDA.
The 2019 shutdown has become the second longest in history, just behind the 21 day shutdown in 1995-96. President Trump has claimed that he would be willing to keep the government on shutdown for “years” or until a decision is made about the funding of the border wall. One option he has is to pull funding from emergency services such as the military to construct the barrier. Trump believes that the wall is necessary to national security, and when asked why he would consider using funding from emergency powers for its construction, he stated, “I can do what I want.” In order to do so, he would have to declare a state of national emergency, which seems highly unnecessary to many. Examples of past declarations of emergency are the days following the 9/11 attacks and during a swine flu outbreak to allow governments to sort out their problems uninterrupted. Trump could hypothetically find a way to use laws in his favor to declare emergency, but he will likely be highly criticized.
UPDATE 1/9/2018: On January 8, Trump made an address to the United States about the government shutdown. In this address, he decided that he would not declare a national state of emergency, calling the issue of illegal immigration “a humanitarian crisis — a crisis of the heart and a crisis of the soul.” He has not backed down on his push for the wall to be constructed, but has agreed upon a large steel fence instead of a concrete wall. In his address, he continued his plea to Congress, and minutes after Trump’s address, Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Democratic Leader, Chuck Schumer, had a response. Pelosi clearly stated, “President Trump must stop holding the American people hostage, must stop manufacturing a crisis and must reopen the government.” They also commented that both Democrats and the President want national security, but the Democrats believe that there is a more effective way to go about this than shutting down the government to build a wall. It is unclear what will happen in the budgeting battle, but for now, it is a massive disagreement that has shut down the government and effected many Americans’ everyday lives.
UPDATE 1/15/2018: On January 12, 2018, the shutdown became the longest in United States history, surpassing the 21-day shutdown in 1995-96. There does not seem to be an end in sight, and negotiations are at a standstill.