News-in-brief: Longest Government Shutdown in History Comes to an End

On Jan. 25, President Trump signed a bill to reopen the government, marking an end to the record-setting 35-day shutdown. The short-term spending bill provides temporary assistance, allowing the government to reopen, restoring normal operations, but fails to provide a long term solution. If lawmakers and the president are unable to reach a deal by Feb. 15, the government will shutdown once again, throwing federal workers into uncertainty.

The shutdown became the longest in history since 1996, with non-essential employees and programs closing due to a lack of funding. During the year prior, Congress goes through the budgetary process on appropriating funds for the following fiscal year. If this does not happen, a continuing funding resolution can be made, acting as a temporary solution to an ongoing problem. In the event that this previous step cannot be accomplished, the government shuts down, meaning all non-essential services and employees go without funding. Programs, departments, and services designated “essential” remain open, such as the Pentagon and the military.

Many employees went to work without pay, whereas others were furloughed, meaning they are sent home without pay. Back pay is usually approved, allowing the workers to be paid retroactively once the government reopens.  

The shutdown was centered around President Trump’s request of $5.7 billion in funding for a border wall, and Democrats refusal to fund the wall. Democrats have stated they are willing to fund border security, just not in the form of a wall, denying Trump a major piece of his immigration policy.

Trump has hinted at declaring a national emergency, stating that “There’s a good chance we’ll have to do that.” If the President does declare a national emergency, he would be able to re-purpose existing funding, allowing him to bypass Congressional gridlock. It is almost certain that legal challenges would follow, meaning the issue would be held up in the courts.

Both sides of the political spectrum saw this as a win, with Democrats focusing on the self proclaimed deal-makers inability to reach a real deal, and Republicans defending the concession as part of a bigger picture.


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