The Longest Government Shutdown in U.S. History


Ashley Kim, Editor-in-Chief

This new year, our country faces a new record: the longest government shutdown in American history. On January 12th, the impasse stretched into twenty-two days, breaking the previous record and sending the country into disarray.
The government was put in partial shutdown when President Donald Trump refused to sign Congress’s annual budget unless $5.7 billion was added to fund the construction of a border wall. A major part of Trump’s campaign was centered around immigration control and building a concrete wall on the southern border of the U.S. and Mexico.
Currently, the president is in a standoff with Congress―in particular, congressional Democratic leaders. While Congress holds the power to pass the annual budget, it cannot be put into law without being signed by the president. With neither side likely to surrender and no budget agreed upon, the shutdown went into effect on December 21st.
That night, a quarter of all federal government agencies and programs stopped running. 800,000 federal workers were furloughed, their salaries cut; additionally, millions of contractors and employees were unpaid.
Moreover, the effects of such a long shutdown have begun to show. The U.S. economy is stunted for every week that it continues. National parks are left open and under-supervised and, as a result, are sustaining major damage. The Federal District Courts are running out of money―if the shutdown continues to Friday, civil cases could be postponed or suspended. In short, the shutdown is affecting much more than just the government.
Lindsey Kim (11), a writer and member of speech and debate, said, “The effects of the shutdown are real. An ineffective government displays the cost of internal conflict.”
The partial shutdown is more than just a dispute over border wall funding or a disagreement over an annual budget. Millions of people are affected every day―whether as federal workers furloughed or not paid, or as citizens who cannot get the help they need.
As for a solution, the shutdown is already into its fourth week and negotiations between the president and the Democrats appear dry. At this point, a compromise seems unlikely, as does every other viable solution; neither party is willing to cave and the Senate is unlikely to override Trump’s veto. Trump said that he has considered declaring an emergency to secure funds for the construction of the border wall, but seems to have backed off. There is no apparent solution or negotiations occuring.
Shrutika Ezhil (9), another speech and debate student, said, “The shutdown shows how divided our country is. This dispute between the president and Congress should not deny federal workers their salaries.”
Despite tensions running high through federal workers and citizens alike, Vice President Mike Pence reassured furloughed employees, saying, “When the government reopens, your families will get your paycheck. We’re going to work to end this shutdown.”
At present, the shutdown continues with no end in sight. For now, the country waits and hopes that the government will soon be functional again.