Government Shutdown; What Happened?

Regina Thomas, Arts & Entertainment Editor

Lasting a full 35 days, the recent government shutdown was the longest one in history. The main issue revolving around the shutdown is border security and whether funding the construction of a wall between Mexico and the US is necessary. Trump vowed to America during his presidential campaign that his victory would bring about the building of a “great wall on our Southern border” in order to combat illegal immigration, and he intends to uphold this promise. The shutdown began on Dec. 22 when Trump’s proposal for a 5 billion dollar border wall funding was not supported by Democrats in Congress.

This historically long shutdown meant that about 800,000 federal employees were forced to go 35 days without a paycheck. Creative and drastic methods had to be utilized in order for these workers to pay their rent and survive. According to CNBC, about 1,800 GoFundMe pages were created for federal workers to raise money. One worker of the US Department of Agricultural, Brandon Walker, wrote in his GoFundMe, “I have been a dedicated public servant at the USDA for 8 years… Since I have been furloughed, I have been volunteering at the Capital Area Food Bank as well as the DC Central Kitchen. I hate to appear as though I am begging, however this is a emergency.” According to Vox, several companies have offered free meals, groceries, and cash to furloughed workers. These charitable companies include Kraft, Hyundai, and Subway. Some workers also even resorted to selling their own belongings like purses and jewelry. On Jan. 16, a bill was passed ensuring that all federal workers get reimbursed for the all the work they missed during the shutdown.

The negative effects of the government shutdown on the nation were evident. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which oversees 80% of America’s food supply, stopped most inspections of foods like vegetables, seafood, and fruit. Bill Marler, a food safety attorney, told CNN, “Sprouts, leafy greens, ready to eat products like cheese, ice cream. I would be especially suspect if you’re a pregnant woman, children, people with a compromised immune system. I would stay  away from it completely.” Another area which was affected was National Parks across the country. They remained open but were unsafe due to the lack of visitor oversight. According to the Washington Post, at least seven people have died in national parks since the shutdown. At Arches National Park in Utah, unsupervised visitors left human waste outside of the bathrooms, vandalized the entrance gate, and went on dangerous off-limit trails. Immigration was another area affected by the shutdown in that 40,000 immigrant hearings were canceled. Those who were eager about immigrating to the US are now forced to wait even longer because rescheduling each one of the canceled hearings can take years.

On Friday, Jan. 25, Trump signed a bill to temporarily reopen the government through Feb 15. The threat of another government shutdown is looming, as the bill expires in about a week. Although Democrats might not be willing to pass a bill on a gigantic border wall, they are willing to compromise and have different ideas for Border Security. New York Democratic representative, Hakeem Jeffries, admitted that “We’re willing to invest in personnel. We’re willing to invest in additional technology. … In the past, we have supported enhanced fencing and I think that’s something that’s reasonable that should be on the table.”