Breakdown of 2018-2019 Government Shutdown
By Emily S.
Febuary 26, 2019
After the longest government shutdown in history, Donald Trump’s presidency certainly will be remembered by this incident. 35 long days of no pay for federal workers, short-staffed lines at airport security, trash-filled national parks, unchecked food in grocery stores, and the threat of a second shutdown will all be remembered by Americans for years to come.
Due to the President and Congress’ failure to reach an agreement, on December 22, 2018, the federal government spiraled into shutdown. President Donald Trump shut down the government because the Democrats in Congress refused to compromise in order to give President Trump the $5.7 billion he requested. The President hoped that the shutdown would convince the Democrats to give him the funding.
A compiled list of most important events during and after the Government Shutdown taken from a New York Times article.
The government shutdown created an immediate ripple effect throughout the nation and had direct effects on many aspects of American life. Multiple government agencies had to shut down, lay off workers, and withhold payment from employees. National parks were also affected as regulation halted, and visitors faced no repercussions for actions in public parks. Economists estimate that the shutdown cost the US economy $6 billion, more than the $5.7 billion President Trump demanded for the wall, but the looming threat of a second shutdown could potentially cost even more.
Many Americans also felt impacted by the shutdown. Multiple businesses that were not associated with the government, including restaurants and food trucks, have also been affected due to decreased customer flow. Since government workers were either furloughed or working without pay, they no longer went out to lunch, which caused decreased customer flow.
However, ultimately government employees are most directly affected by the shutdown; the majority of federal workers have gone without two paychecks and cut down on a lot of normal day to day expenses in the last month. “[My father] could very well be put on furlough in the upcoming days,” expressed Bailey G., ’19, daughter of a United States Geological Survey worker. “We know how to handle it as a family, but the fact that he and countless other families wake up every day uncertain clearly affects the whole society.”
The Westridge community was also disrupted by the shutdown; some students whose parents work in government positions have gone without most of their incomes for the last month. “I can tell that he really felt for the other families who aren’t as privileged as we are and wished there was something tangible he could do about it. I could tell both my parents felt pretty helpless,” said Bailey. Anxiety-filled households and feelings of frustration and helplessness arose from the loss of money.
“We were more stressed-out and anxious than usual, and having discussions about the things we couldn’t do, like the little things that start to add up, were the things we had to start thinking about,” explained Kat M., ’21, daughter of the Los Angeles spokesman for the US Attorney General. Since families began living without half of their normal incomes, they started sacrificing different aspects of their lives, such as cutting down on driving because of large gas costs.
End of Shutdown
On January 25th, 2019, President Trump signed a bill to reopen the government for three weeks. The bill restored normal operations at multiple federal agencies until February 15th, and the process of paying the 800,000 federal workers who have gone without pay for the last 35 days sped up. Even though federal workers received back pay, they were still concerned about what they would do if the government were to shut down again.
“We were very happy about getting back the pay we were missing, but at the same time, the looming threat of another shutdown and going back to the same stress is still causing an anxious environment in my house”, said Kat.
President Trump’s National Emergency
On February 14th, 2019, Congress approved a massive deal that gave the President 333 billion dollars, less than a quarter of the money he originally asked for. President Trump agreed to sign the bill but also disclosed that he would declare a national emergency. This is the first national emergency to be declared on the basis of redirecting money without congressional authority. During a national emergency, the President has access to money that is normally not in his jurisdiction.
The national emergency allows the President access to about $8 billion—significantly more than the original $5.7 billion he requested from Congress. He would obtain the money from Homeland Security, the Treasury Department’s drug forfeiture fund, and the Defense Department’s drug interdiction program and military construction budget.
President Trump’s decision to declare a national emergency sparked tension between Congress and the President. Democrats called his declaration an unconstitutional abuse of power and vowed with the support of Republicans to overturn it.
“I know the Republicans have some unease about it, because if the President can declare an emergency on something that he has created as an illusion that he wants to convey, just think of what a President with different values can present to the American people,” expressed Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House.
Congress does not have the power to stop the emergency, but under the National Emergencies Act, the Senate and House can initiate a joint resolution of termination if they believe the President's actions are irresponsible. The joint resolution of termination would then end up going to the President giving him the power to veto it, but Congress has the power to override that veto. However, it is unlikely that Democrats will gain enough Republican support to pass the bill in the first place.