Jan 31st, 2018, 01:38 PM

Government Shutdown: What Really Happened?

By Moumi Camara
Image Credit: Flickr/Cool Revolution
On midnight 19 January 2018, the US government shut down for almost three days.

What is a government shutdown?

It is when part of the government closes until they can decide on spending plans.

Many government agencies, nearly 40 percent,  take an unpaid leave of absence, except for essential services such as national security, the FBI, energy services and air traffic control. Traveling is not banned but visa and passport processing can be delayed due to the shutdown. 

Despite the shutdown, the Trump administration kept the national parks open due to the angry reaction of the public when they were closed in the 2013 shutdown

Why did it happen?

A spending bill - called the appropriation bill - had to be passed by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump by midnight on January 19, 2018. Senate couldn't get the 60 votes to extend spending until February 16, 2018, and therefore the government closed their doors. 

Democrats wanted the bill to protect the nearly 700,000 immigrants eligible for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Those who are protected by DACA are known as "dreamers." the program was created in 2012 under Barack Obama to allow those who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children with temporary legal status, and the ability to study and work in America. If Congress cant find a resolution, Trump's immigration plan will end the program February.

Image Credit: Unsplashed/Nitish Meena 

The Senate agreed to continue the resolution on January 22, but that expires on midnight February 8, 2018. The House approved the Senate bill and it was signed by President Donald Trump. Republicans agreed to work with the Democrats on the DACA legislation in order for them to receive their votes.

Whose fault is it?

This depends on your point of view in terms of politics. 

Republicans are blaming Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer, who led the Democrats to block the bill, calling the shutdown the Schumer shutdown. 

Democrats are blaming Republicans and Donald Trump for pulling out of the immigration plan leaving many to have to force the topic in order to get what they want. 

Has this happened before?

Yes, 12 times since 1981, each varied in duration. The most recent shutdown was under Barack Obama in 2013 and lasted 16 days.  Republicans denied support for a spending bill that included funding for Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act. 

This was the first time since 1980 that a disagreement on the budget led to a shutdown when both Congress and the White House are controlled by the Republican party. 

What is next?

Donald Trump has suggested a "nuclear option," which would lower the number votes required to pass the bill. It would be easier for Republicans reach the absolute majority (51 percent) rather than the current threshold of 60 percent. 

For this to happen it would need to be led by Senator McConnell, but he has said that he and other Republicans are against it.