Breaking Down the Government Shutdown

In light of the recent Government Shutdown, staff writer Stephanie Antonio breaks down the causes and impacts of history in the making.

Stephanie Antonio, Staff Writer

In the 35 days the United States government was shut down, 420,000 federal government employees worked without pay, 380,000 continued to be furloughed, and thousands of Americans across the nation took to the streets to protest. Having reached the one month mark several days ago, the consequences of this past government shutdown only became more devastating as it continued to stretch and become the longest in all of American history.


But what exactly is a government shutdown, and how does it occur?


A government shutdown is the closing of government agencies deemed non-essential due to lack of funding. This occurs when the government fails to pass the federal budget before a certain deadline usually due to disagreement.


Last year on December 21st, the previous spending bills from 2018 had expired and Congress had yet to pass 7 spending bills. Among these 7 included the Homelands Security Appropriations bill which would dictate how much funding would be distributed to border security and how that money would be used. This particular spending bill has caused a major division between President Trump and the Democrats in Congress- who currently have control of the house.


In order to fully understand why this continues to be an issue of extreme controversy it is crucial to explore both perspectives:


During the 2016 presidential election, the construction of a US southern wall was one of the key promises of President Trump’s campaign that won over many Americans. Strongly believing that “all Americans are hurt by uncontrolled illegal migration” he has no plans of backing down on his promise. Despite originally claiming that Mexico would pay for the wall, President Trump now requests $5.7 billion from the federal budget for a wall of steel to prevent illegal immigrants from crossing the US-Mexico border.


However, this offer has not received support from the opposing party, the Democrats. While many Democrats have expressed their support for stronger border security, they do not support a physical wall. Nancy Pelosi Speaker of the House, along with many other Democrats view the wall as “ineffective, expensive, and immoral.”

Though the Democrats, President Trump, and the Republicans in the White House had all made efforts to compromise, negotiations, for the most part, remained unsuccessful-until yesterday. Trump offered a deal to the Democrats that included $800 million to improve the care for families at the border, a 3-year extension for those with Temporary Protected Status holders and DACA, all in exchange for $5.7 billion to construct a steel wall. On the other hand, the Democrats offered $1.3 billion for border fencing and $300 million for border security. None of these negotiations were accepted by either party causing things to look worrisome for many Americans.

All of that changed yesterday on Friday 25th when Congress announced that the government would be reopened and funded for 3 more weeks-until February 15th.
But with the issue of border security still up in the air, we aren’t out of the dark just yet. Congress will continue to negotiate the issue of border security, and the threat of another government shutdown still looms above our heads. Additionally, Americans have yet to recover from losing their main source of income, being left without access to food and health programs, suspended facility inspections, delayed court cases, lack of TSA employees- everything that posed a threat to all Americans. Nonetheless, this is still a victory for all Americans, serving as a step forward towards recovery.

The responsibility for millions of Americans lies in the hands of Congress. A decision with this importance should not be made at the expense of Americans. What good is arguing over the best way to protect America, if the price is setting aside citizens and leaving them exposed to harm?