Government Shutdown Clouds Beginning of 2019

Elise May, Critique Editor

The American government, as fair and democratic as can be, puts the power of shutting down the government in the hands of the president. Government shutdowns in the United States refer to a lack of funding over a period of time that causes a full or partial shutdown of federal government operations and agencies. They are often caused when there is a failure to pass sufficient bills to fund the government for a year, and primarily occur when there is a disagreement over a proposed bill from Republicans or Democrats within the House of Representatives or the Senate, and the President of the United States.

Recently, President Donald Trump issued the longest government shutdown in American history, spanning 35 days from December 22, 2018 to January 25, 2019. Trump demanded a solid $5 billion in order to begin the construction of a border wall from Congress, to which they promptly refused. This lead to 35 days of futile negotiations and a harsh stalemate. The actual cost of a border wall however, is estimated to reach between $8 billion to $70 billion. The wall, treated as an immigration issue, is regarded in many different ways by different people.




Ms. Hayes, an academic coordinator at CCS, says, “As time evolved, people born in the US who originally came over from Europe called this place home, but originally they came to this country without a passport or green card and didn't ask for permission to be here, but came for religious freedom and for some, the pursuit of happiness. If we truly believe this, if we as Christians believe in not only loving others, but loving and treating them well, then we need to embody that in our legislation, judicial decisions, perspective, and commentary.”

           Our President's choice to shutdown the government only seems more selfish and ignorant in light of the way it affected some 800,000 government workers, and people who rely on the government for necessities such as food and shelter. Here’s a list of all the departments that were affected from the New York Times:

  1. Homeland Security

  2. Justice and Law Enforcement

  3. Agriculture Department

  4. The Internal Revenue Service

  5. National Park Service

  6. Transportation Security Administration

  7. Securities and Exchange Commission

  8. Environmental Protection Agency

  9. Housing services

  10. The Violence Against Women Act (funds programs for survivors of domestic violence, stalking and sexual assault)


The majority of workers were sent home, called in sick, or worked without pay for over a month. Missing two paychecks, many people who live paycheck to paycheck are unable to afford groceries and daily needs. Not only did it negatively affect government workers, but also many other children and families. In some schools, there is a program paid for by the government called National School Lunch Program (NSLP) that issues meals to students that cannot afford their own. According to the School Nutrition Association, up to 30 million students rely on this program for daily meals. The Food Bank, who also receives government funding, is still in need, if anything more than ever with workers not receiving paychecks. After 27 days of the shutdown, the Chattanooga Food Bank needed much communal support, and were asking for up to $25,000 in donations. Besides the blow dealt to the people, the economy was also negatively affected. The shutdown caused a gross domestic product loss of about $11 billion, a lot of which cannot be recovered.




“I had heard a lot of uneducated statements and remarks about the government shutdown and the "why" to it, but I did not hear anyone making any comments about how it is impacting people; people who have children, spouses, and other people relying on them for provisions and protection,” says Hayes.

Despite all this, President Trump is only allowing the government to stay open until February 15, unless a bill is passed or an agreement reached funding the border wall. This time around, shutting down the government could be even more detrimental, because Trump threatens to keep it closed until Congress gives him what he wants once or for all. However, he is also threatening to pass this as a National Emergency which would give him the ability to bypass Congress, and have the wall built by the military.


The National Mall in Washington, D.C. during the government shutdown in 2013

The National Park Service remains heavily affected by the lack of funding throughout the beginning of the year