Government temporarily reopens after thirty-five day shutdown

Three weeks later, Congress and the President are still fighting over a declaration of a state of emergency to fund the border wall.

Bianca Geib, Forum Editor, Co-Online Editor

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On Dec. 22, 2018, a partial government shutdown began. White House officials and Congress could not come to an agreement on funding for the southern-border wall President Trump plans to build. Trump demanded $5.7 billion for this wall, which Congress refused to allocate (New York Times).

The shutdown affects many agencies, including Border Patrol, Homeland Security, Dept. of Interior Dept. of Justice, the EPA, and NASA (New York Times). Homeland Security includes TSA and the Coast Guard, and Dept. of Interior includes national parks.

Many of these agencies relate to science and public health. For example, the FDA is also affected, causing less routine inspections to be done on produce. National parks are closed because of a limited amount of rangers in place to enforce regulations.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis, US Census Bureau (Dept. of Commerce), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are shut down, meaning their services are not available to the public. This especially affects economists and scientists trying to conduct research, as well as public safety relating to extreme weather.

The Social Security Administration (SSA), Medicare, Medicaid, and Veterans Affairs are among those still getting paid. Even though Social Security received a full budget for the 2019 fiscal year, the first time in 22 years, it is still indirectly affected by the shutdown.

The SSA Human Resource Director for the Pacific Northwest said that one of the biggest challenges regarding the shutdown is “keeping employee morale high and keeping employees engaged in work. Even though SSA isn’t directly affected [by the shutdown] everything that affects the federal government affects all employees.”

On Jan. 12 the shutdown became the longest shutdown to happen in the United States, elapsing the 1995-1996 shutdown, that lasted 21 days.

On Jan. 16, President Trump signed a bill ensuring that furloughed federal employees will receive back pay when the shutdown is over. On the 35th day of the shutdown, Jan. 25, Congress passed, and the president signed, a bill that reopened the government until Feb. 15.

When Feb. 15 arrived, President Trump announced that he “signed a national emergency declaration to build his proposed border wall ‘much faster’ than he would otherwise be able to” (CNBC). This action immediately received backlash and was expected to be met with legal force.

As of press time, on Feb. 26, Congress voted to overturn the declaration of a National Emergency.

The President and Congress reached an agreement on Jan. 25, 2019 to end the shutdown.