After 35 days, the longest government shutdown in history has resulted in a three week political armistice. With around 800,000 federal employees working without pay, it’s easy to blame no one but the billionaire executive.Washington has been characterized this past month by a tug-of-war between Madame Speaker Pelosi and President Trump. Recent passive aggressive letters sent back and forth between the two have shown nothing but how polarized this country has become. Now what was this shutdown over, and why did it continue for so long?
To put it simply, every year the President and Congress must agree to pass laws to fund the Federal Government. At the current moment, President Trump and the Republicans are in complete control of the executive branch and hold a majority of The Senate. However, the 2018 midterm election gave Democrats a foot in the door. They now have a majority in The House of Representatives, proudly lead by the Speaker of The House: Nancy Pelosi.
The President stated that he would not sign a funding bill that didn’t include funding for a border wall. Trump has demanded an appropriation of $5.7 billion for a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico. However, the House isn’t too fond of that idea. This is what lead to a shutdown on December 21st. Moreover, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell isn’t playing well with Speaker Pelosi. He has refused to let any budget bill that omits border-wall funding reach the Senate floor. A two-thirds vote of both the House and the Senate in favor of such a bill would override President Trump’s decision, but such a vote can only take place if McConnell allows it.
During the following month, the shutdown wounded several sectors of our country. On January 11th Standard & Poor’s (S&P) reported that the shutdown had already cost our economy $3.6 billion. National parks were riddled with trash from irresponsible visitors. The parks’ public bathrooms overflowed with human waste and impacted the air and soil quality. The TSA was unable to pay their employees, causing their agents to call in sick. When airports have less security, the safety of air travel is compromised. Rumors of lawsuits from angered unions flooded newsstands and social media. Up to 38 million Americans were left without an access to food stamps.
On January 25th, the President agreed to end the long and overdue shut down. However, he still isn’t pleased with our current policy on border security. The government will be funded at our current levels for the next three weeks until a compromise can be made on the funding for the wall. It seems as though Donald Trump has progressed past rhetoric and is actually becoming obsessed with the border wall. To what cost? Not just the $5.7 billion dollars, but the loss in funding to other programs.
There are wonderful programs that aid veterans, and those who are homeless. However, there are still tens of thousands of our brave men and women on the streets. Believe it or not, in our civilized and highly developed country, 1 in 6 people face hunger. Our inner city’s public school systems are in dire need of wider budgets and heavier funding. Flint still does not have clean drinking water. An extra $5.17 billion in border funding has to come from somewhere, and these programs could be on the chopping block. Going forward into the following weeks, the discourse and decisions made in Washington will test whether Americans can trust the politicians,t our elected employees, to make decisions that actually benefit the American people.