The Reality of the Government Shutdown

“A government shutdown is when non-essential discretionary federal programs close. It occurs when Congress fails to appropriate funds. In the normal budget process, Congress appropriates funds by September 30 for the following fiscal year. When that doesn’t happen, then Congress enacts a continuing funding resolution. If Congress can’t agree on one, it forces a shutdown”. (The Balance)

On December 21, 2018, our government shut down mainly due to deadlock over Trump’s Border Wall funding. Once the shutdown hit January 12, 2019, it became the longest shutdown in history. This is the third government shutdown under Trump’s presidency, although the other two only lasted three days or less.

When a government shuts down, those who work in varying departments of the government have pay or work restrictions. “About 380,000 non-critical employees of nine agencies have been sent home without pay…The remaining 420,000 critical employees must work without a paycheck” (The Balance). Some workers will get paid for their work after the shutdown, but not all will.

The following are the departments that are being affected by the shutdown:

  1. Agriculture – 40 percent of 95,383 workers. Farmers can’t get loans processed. February food stamps could be cut.
  2. Commerce – 87 percent of 47,896 workers. It is using reserve funds. Reports from the Bureau of Economic Analysis will be delayed.
  3. Homeland Security – 13 percent of 232,860 workers. Members of the coast guard may not receive their next paycheck.
  4. Housing and Urban Development – 95 percent of 7,497 workers.
  5. Interior – 78 percent of 68,469 workers. National Park maintenance has decreased. The Environmental Protection Agency would furlough 95 percent of 13,872 workers. It used reserve funds through December 28.
  6. Justice – 17 percent of 114,154 workers.
  7. State – 42 percent of U.S. workers and 26 percent of U.S. employees posted abroad.
  8. Treasury – 83 percent of 87,267 workers. Tax refunds could be delayed.
  9. Transportation – 34 percent of 54,230 workers. Some security screeners have called in sick. This has created delays in some airports.

The workers that are in these positions are facing the reality of not being able to support their families, pay rent and bills, and buy groceries. The shutdown is affecting more than just employees of the government, though; you could also face some difficulties. Thinking of going on a trip? If you’re taking a plane, you may wait up to 3 hours just to get through security. Do you eat fruit and vegetables frequently? Food inspections have stopped, so you really have to watch what you eat and make sure it’s clean (E. Coli checks on lettuce are still happening). Do you live off food stamps? The 1 in 10 Americans who do might not be able to get them if the shutdown goes after February. The shutdown is also affecting museums, national parks, federal courts, and immigration courts.

If this continues to go on, our services will decline significantly as the departments run out of funds. With no end in sight, it’s important to understand the reality of what our country and fellow Americans are facing right now.