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Government Shutdown: What’s Happening?

US Capitol Building

Photo © Everett Collection Inc. – Dreamstime.com

Update: After more than 30 days worth of halt in federal activity, President Trump reopened the government on January 25, 2019 – but only temporarily. Congress and President Trump have until February 15, 2019 to come to some sort of consensus for budgets regarding border security along Mexico.

This was officially the longest partial government shutdown in American history, and perhaps the one with the biggest financial consequences. Some 800,000 federal workers were not paid over the past 35 days and were eager to receive their paychecks to keep up with bills and basic necessities such as food and water.

President Trump stated that should the government fail to agree on funding for the wall by the second deadline, he would be ready to declare a national emergency to make the wall he promised his followers a reality.

Even with things back to normal, there seems to be no sign of a clear, imminent solution. Democrats continue to call President Trump’s wall proposition “wasteful and ineffective” while Republicans are showing obvious signs of frustration over the lack of progress being made. According to the New York Times, Republican Senator Mitch McConnell called President Trump to ask if there are other alternatives besides building a wall for better border security; in exchange, Democrats could commit to at least debating the wall in the Senate.


It’s now Day 6 of the partial government shutdown.

Having the shutdown is one thing, but having it happen during Christmas is another. We’ve felt its direct impact on us over the past several days while Congress and the White House struggle to overcome their disagreements on building a wall along the border of Mexico.

Here’s a breakdown of what you need to know during this wonky period of time…

What is it, and why is it happening?

A shutdown is when Congress or the president fails to approve legislation that funds federal operations and agencies. In the current case, it’s basically a battle between the Democrats and President Trump over how much money should be spent on building the wall that was promised in President Trump’s campaign.

Negotiations for the wall budget had begun in early December, but Democrats found the wall proposals “ineffective” and rejected the idea of using concrete as the main source of building material. At first, President Trump agreed to sign a bill with $5.7 billion for the wall, but then changed his mind. This led to leaders in the Senate scrambling to come up with a new plan for funding, but still failed to find a financial solution for the matter by December 20th.

House Democrats will still submit a funding bill to the Senate early in the new year, but the likelihood of providing funds for the wall is low. And as you’re reading this, Congress and the president still haven’t come to a final decision.

Who and which departments does it affect?

To start, the government shutdown affects everyone, but the biggest of its impact depends on which federal department you work for.

Because the government is stuck in this gridlock, non-essential government programs must come to a halt. This includes the National Park Service and the IRS, to name a few. At the moment, at least 400,000 employees from these non-essential government programs have been sent home without pay.

Those who work for the FBI, DEA, TSA, and other law and safety enforcement groups will continue to operate, but they will not be reimbursed for their work until after the shutdown is over. The U.S. Postal Service will also remain open, but delays in delivery services are expected in the process.

I don’t work for the government, so how will this affect me?

If you’re a nature lover, most natural reserves that are operated by the federal government will be closed until further notice. But since it’s a partial government shutdown, there’s been a few lucky exceptions. If you’re still interested in visiting some of Mother Nature’s gems this week, here’s an updated list of parks that are still open during the shutdown (make sure you have a plan B though, because change in access can happen without warning).

Got any further questions regarding the shutdown? Ask away in the comment section below.


Vivian Wang

Vivian is a travel enthusiast and food connoisseur living in New York City. Her curiosity and passion for languages and culture has taken her across eight countries over the past year. When not working, you can find her meandering in art museums or sampling food at the street markets.

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