Fighting in the Federal Government Continues: An Overview of the Government Shutdown

by The Cowl Editor on January 17, 2019

National and Global News

by Kyle Burgess ’21

News Staff

This past Saturday, January 11, marked the third week since President Trump’s refusal to sign a spending bill negotiated by Republicans and Democrats that would continue current border-security funding without the construction of a border wall on the United State’s southern border.Currently, this is the longest-lasting government shutdown in United States history.

The necessity for a border wall to strengthen domestic security and crack down on illegal immigration became a staple issue during Trump’s presidential campaign. 

Now that he is in office, Trump has directed his attention towards making this promise a reality, one which would set the government back a proposed $5.7 billion. 

Despite stating initial claims that the Mexican government “would make a one-time payment of $5 to $10 billion” to pay for the wall’s construction, Trump has since gone back on these words, stating, “Obviously, I never said this, and I never meant that they’re gonna write out a check, I said they’re going to pay for it.”

Exactly just how Mexico would pay for the wall without an upfront payment seemed like a contradiction until President Trump elaborated on his explanation, detailing how the U.S. government would receive funding through the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA). The agreement itself is a signed free-trade agreement amongst the three nations, however it has yet to be ratified by them.

Despite this nebulous solution to possible financial roadblocks that would arise, President Trump remained unsatisfied with Congress’ apparent indifference to “large scale criminal and drug inflow” across the border, prompting him to declare that the task of constructing his barrier would fall upon the United States military.

To Trump’s displeasure, the proposed funding plans for such an undertaking encountered fierce resistance by House Democrats who were desperate to stall any progress to the wall’s construction. They did, however, reach across the aisle to negotiate on several key budgeting issues that would help to prevent a government shutdown. 

Instead, Trump chose to stick to his guns by reiterating his ability to shut down the government should Congress not comply with his demands of $5.7 billion for the wall. Efforts by leaders in both the Senate and House of Representatives attempted to write up a new spending bill, but had no success. 

The shutdown of the United States government has directly impacted the lives of some 400,000 non-critical employees belonging to nine federal agencies. 

Notable departments that are affected by the shutdown include the Department of Education, the Department of the Interior (including national parks), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Trump has publicly stated that he will keep the government shutdown until his demands have been met, going so far as to threaten calling a state of national emergency should the shutdown exceed several months or even years. 

Until a compromise between the two combatants can be reached, the men and women employed in these agencies will continue to patiently sit on the sidelines without pay as the winter of 2019 ushers in a new “cold war” between the executive and legislative branches in Washington, D.C.