Government shutdown longest in history

Lily Marchetto, Staff Editor

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In the winter of 1995-1996, during Bill Clinton’s administration, the government was shut down for 21 days. That was the record for the longest shutdown in American history, until over 20 years later, in 2019. A month has come and gone with the government remaining partially closed, and for many it seems there is no end in sight. A government shutdown occurs when Congress and the president cannot approve a budget to keep the government open. All non-essential spending must stop when the government is partially shut down, until appropriation bills are passed and signed into law.

The 2018-2019 shutdown began due to disagreement on the funding of President Donald Trump’s promised border wall. Trump and congressional Republicans asked for $5 billion to build a steel wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, which Democrats refused to give. The shutdown began on Dec. 21 and negotiations continued for weeks after with neither side showing signs of budging.

A government shutdown has far-reaching effects into the lives of many Americans. With national parks, museums, the IRS, EPA and FDA closed, thousands of workers are on leave and others are left without their services. In addition, 420,000 workers are continuing to work without pay. Most of these workers should receive back pay when the government reopens, but for those federal workers living paycheck to paycheck, especially after the holidays, it is a particularly difficult time. Those workers include TSA agents, air traffic controllers, border patrol, coast guard and Secret Service agents. 10 percent of TSA agents were calling in sick over MLK weekend, causing long lines and inefficiencies in airports.

Many Americans are stepping in to help those federal workers that have gone weeks without a paycheck. Online payment company PayPal plans to give $25 million in cash advances to unpaid federal workers. Food banks are giving aid to federal workers, and thousands are donating to online campaigns to pay the coast guard and other agencies.

Currently, the president and democratic leaders have not talked for over a week. With political power moves and gamesmanship continuing, only time will tell how long the shutdown will continue or when the pain for so many Americans will be relieved.

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