Thursday, July 18, 2024

What Does The Government Shutdown Really Mean For The Country?

January 16, 2019 by  
Filed under Opinion, Politics, Weekly Columns

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(ThySistas.comTrump’s border wall policy is once again causing tension and has led to a partial government shutdown. A recent spending bill which contained a $5 billion budget for the building of the border wall has failed to pass the Senate and the deadlock has resulted in a partial government shutdown.

This isn’t the first time that Trump has threatened to shut the government down (he previously threatened action over planned parenthood) but this is the first time he’s gone through with it. At the time of writing, the government has been shut down for 23 days, making it the longest shutdown in the history of the United States, but what does that actually mean for the country?

It’s federal employees that have been hit hardest initially, with over 800,000 employees being put on mandatory unpaid leave and hundreds of thousands of people working without pay in the lead up to Christmas.

At this point, it’s not clear just how long this shutdown will last, especially as Trump threatened that it would ‘last for a very long time.’ Negotiations are ongoing but neither side seems willing to budge on the issue of funding for the border wall. While a lot of government aides believe that the only way to move forward and end the government shutdown is to remove the border wall funding from the original bill and send it back to the house, neither the Republican Party or Trump himself are willing to do that.

It is not clear exactly how government agencies are going to be affected by the current shutdown but, based on what happened during shutdowns in the past, these are just some of the problems that could be caused.

What is clear is that a lot of departments are without the majority of their employees and that means there will be a lot of catching up to do once the government is up and running again. Even if employees work overtime and make good use of government case management software to plug the gap, it’s likely that most departments will have a big backlog to deal with. Only time will tell what effect that’s going to have on government services over the next year or so.

In some vital areas of government, federal workers are having to continue working without pay. The FBI, DEA, TSA and the customs and border protection officers, for example, cannot just leave their posts. So they’ll be working for free until the issue is resolved and the government is working again. Those unpaid wages will eventually be paid to those employees but there is no telling how long that might take and what financial toll it could have on those agencies.

Those employees that are not considered essential and have been put on mandatory unpaid leave are in a worse position. Congress can push to have back wages paid to those employees but there is no legal precedent to guarantee it so it might not happen for them. At the moment, all they can do is wait it out and hope that they’ll get paid when the shutdown is over.

Some areas of government are largely unaffected by the shutdown because they generate their own funding from outside sources. The United States Postal Service is one of the largest of these agencies. Trump is also probably unhappy to hear that the Mueller investigation into Russian interference in the election is going forward as planned as the funding comes from an independent source separate from the government.

However, there are a lot of government agencies that cannot operate properly during the shutdown. The National Parks service has kept parks open but any facilities like toilets etc. are closed and there is nobody to patrol the land and ensure that it is safe. This has already caused problems as people have cut down protected trees in one of the parks.

The Food and Drug Administration has minimized operations as well because they don’t have the manpower to carry out regular inspections. This is worrying, especially in the wake of recent food standards issues like the Romaine lettuce recall.

The Environmental Protection Agency that is usually tasked with monitoring and managing environmental hazards have had to scale back operations as well. This could have some serious knock on effects on the environment if those hazards are left unchecked for too long.

It’s impossible to tell exactly what the long term effects of the government shutdown are going to be at this point, but there is a consensus amongst the Democrats that Trump won’t get the money to build his wall.

Staff Writer; Lisa Moore

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