Here Are 3 Things You Need To Know About The Government Shutdown
This is the longest federal government shutdown in United States history.
January 24, 2019 at 6:04 pm
Since December 22, 2018, several federal agencies have either been partial running or have completely closed due to a lack of federal funding.
Trump reportedly wants an estimated $5.7 billion for "construction, procurement, and infrastructure" as it pertains to the proposed border wall, which would sit between the United States and Mexico. His administration's insistence on spending for the wall has created a political stalemate. As both parties in the Senate and House continue to pin blame on each other, approximately 800,000 unpaid and furloughed federal workers are struggling to make ends meet.
Here is what you need to know about the nation's longest federal government shutdown.
1. Donald Trump is blaming the government shutdown on the new Democratically controlled Congress.
Just over a week before the government shutdown, Donald Trump met with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and then-House Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). The chaotic meeting ended with Trump shouldering the blame for a possible shutdown. “I am proud to shut down the government,” Trump boasted, according to Pelosi's Twitter.
Now that the length of the shutdown has exceeded most expectations, Trump is singing a new tune, blaming the recently inaugurated Democratic-controlled House for the shutdown.
Trump's words: “I am proud to shut down the government.”— Nancy Pelosi (@TeamPelosi) December 21, 2018
In other words, he's “proud” to harm our economy and Americans' paychecks -- “proud” to cause hard-working families misery right before the holidays. #TrumpShutdown pic.twitter.com/wxDq3ZFsjM
"Nancy Pelosi has behaved so irrationally & has gone so far to the left that she has now officially become a Radical Democrat. She is so petrified of the “lefties” in her party that she has lost control...And by the way, clean up the streets in San Francisco, they are disgusting!" Trump said via Twitter on January 20.
2. Many federal agencies are weakened due to lack of staff and/or closed offices.
With the shutdown, several federal agencies have been unable to operate at normal a capacity and support employee efforts to complete necessary tasks. For instance, many airports are still demanding that TSA employees come to work regardless of the shutdown, in spite of not getting paid for this time. As a result, numerous TSA employees have elected to take sick days, both in an act of protest and as a means to compensate for the wages lost. According to Slate, on Jan. 12, 5.6 percent of TSA agents reportedly called out sick. A report from The Washington Post shows that figure to be as high as 10 percent as the shutdown enters day 30.
Staff shortages at airports have inevitably made security checks longer, and in many cases, the agents working are not as motivated to do their jobs well. Agents have been part of a number of protests throughout the month at airports around the country.
So I’m at @ATLairport and this may be the longest security line I have ever seen. Even growing up here, and even for a Monday morning. One passenger told me he’d been waiting over an hour and still had about 30 minutes to go. pic.twitter.com/UL7EghujQI— Omar Jimenez (@OmarJimenezCNN) January 14, 2019
Airports aren't the only government-funded employers to be hit hard as a result of the government shutdown, as many agencies have been unable to fulfill their necessary duties. Furloughed IRS agents have been forced to return to work without pay, in spite of limited resources. Federal courts are reportedly on the verge of running out of money. At one point, Food and Drug Administration wasn't able to inspect high-risk foods like seafood and some vegetables. The FBI has been unable to conduct its human and drug trafficking investigations at full capacity, leaving many vulnerable to security threats as the shutdown persists. National parks have not been maintained throughout the shutdown, the repercussions of which were most notably felt at Joshua Tree National Park, when endangered desert plants were reportedly destroyed as a result of the lack of security. Furloughed of White House staff members has left remaining politicians to their own devices, even serving as the catalyst for Trump's now infamous fast food-catered banquet dinner, which was intended to honor Clemson University's football team for their recent the National Championship victory.
Trump served fast food during the Clemson University football team's White House visit because of the shutdown. He said it was either that or have the First Lady make them salads. pic.twitter.com/Aw67Tb9TgU— NowThis (@nowthisnews) January 15, 2019
Food stamps or SNAP benefits have been affected, as the USDA reportedly does not have enough funding to support the 39 million people who use these benefits to purchase groceries. An unfortunate side effect of the shutdown is the increased use of community food banks by SNAP recipients and furloughed workers. Without pay, many workers have also been looking for other forms of work, even turning to GoFundMe for aid.
I’m a TSA employee struggling during this government shutdown. I take care of my mom who is a brain tumor survivor she now suffers from epilepsy and glaucoma. I’m the sole provider for my household Just looking for some help during this difficult time https://t.co/TLJNUFjUbi— Mechelle (@CHELLiEBXTCH) January 12, 2019
3. The Republicans are refusing to compromise.
The now month-long shutdown hasn't been enough to hinder Trump and Republican lawmakers' quest for a wall. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has demanded that Trump issue a state of emergency to siphon funds from disaster relief to fund its construction.
“It is time for President Trump to use emergency powers to fund the construction of a border wall/barrier,” Graham said, according to Reuters.
CBS News has reported that to construct a wall, the White House has gone as far as to consider taking $13.9 billion from funding that was originally allocated for hurricane disaster relief in Puerto Rico and California, Florida, and Texas. Critics have pointed out this would essentially be a slap in the face to those citizens who are still struggling in these areas.
Like Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) also refuses to compromise. According to The Hill, the Senate-majority leader voted against House-proposed legislation, obstructing a potential vote on shutdown-ending bills because doing so would defy the precedent set by the executive branch, which is dead-set on obtaining funding for the border wall. Though presented as a short-term solution, these bills would've reopened the government, ensuring federal workers received their long overdue paychecks by providing funding for the Dept. of Homeland Security through February, as well as other federal departments and agencies throughout the rest of the fiscal year. Additionally, this legislation would've allowed for border wall negotiations to continue, had the bundle of bills been eligible for a vote. McConnell's move to ultimately block these bills, in support of Trump's obstinance regarding the demand for border wall funding.
“Let me repeat again what I’ve said now for three weeks: The solution is a negotiation between the one person who can sign something into law, the president of the United States, and our Democratic colleagues,” McConnell reportedly said on the Senate floor on January 15.
On January 24 — day 32 of the shutdown — Democrats and Republicans will reportedly meet in an attempt to reach an agreement on wall funding and reopening the government. The New York Times, currently there is a proposal on the table to reopen the government until Feb. 8. The decision to negotiate reportedly came after Trump floated a plan to extend Dreamers' stay in exchange for the wall funding.
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