The Government Shut Down

Photo via The Vance Exchange under Creative Commons license.

Angela Lee Tucker, Staff story

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Late in 2018, major disagreements between lawmakers led to the government temporarily shutting its doors.

Every year Congress has to agree on a budget to fund the government, making sure all government employees are paid and all government programs will be able to function for the new fiscal year. The fiscal year ended Sept. 30, but Congress could not come to an agreement about how to use federal funds. The major sticking point was President Trump’s demands for funds of about $5 billion for a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico border. Many Democrats objected to the idea of a border wall. According to CNN, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer refused to meet his demands for the billions of dollars.

On Oct. 1, Congress had only been able to get five out of the twelve bills signed for 2019. Due to this factor, those who needed the bills would have to continue to use outdated resolutions. Different negotiations were kicked back and forth until the government finally shut down Dec. 21, 2018. During this time the federal agencies had to discontinue all non-important functions (like national park rangers and NASA staff) until new legislation funding had been passed and signed into law. Important functions (the military, postal service, and Medicare) still were able to continue. When new shutdown occurred, the government used old shutdowns as an example of how to handle it. The Office of Management and Budget ruled which activities by the government must stop until appropriations were restored.

After 35 days, the government shutdown ended after The House and The Senate were able to vote and come to a consensus. On Feb. 15, President Trump declared that there was a state of emergency at the U.S.-Mexico border.  “He is now declaring a national emergency in addition to the spending deal because he doesn’t want it to look like he lost,” wrote Vox reporter Emily Stewart. “But can he do it? Many Democrats and some legal scholars have said that Trump can’t declare a national emergency to get the border wall funded. Others say there are avenues he could definitely try, setting up potential battles in Congress and in the courts.”

The government shutdown should still be important to Round Lake High School students. It may not affected them directly, but it does affect the people around them. Many government employees went weeks without paychecks, maybe even affecting some students’ parents. It can take a long while for people to climb out of financial problems. Additionally, the state of emergency declaration should also bring about questions of the current checks and balances in our government.