Government shutdown on its thirty-second day

Laila McKinley

As of today, Wednesday, Jan. 23, the government has been shut down for 33 days, the longest in United States history, with no relief appearing to be in sight.

In addition to disagreements regarding the 2019 budget, President Donald Trump’s demand for $5.7 billion to build the long-awaiting and discussed United States-Mexico border wall was refused by Congress and at midnight on Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018, the shutdown began

The partisan disagreement has resulted in a change of pace across the country.

Either furloughed or expected to work regardless, 800,000 government workers are on their fifth week without pay, many expressing their worries through social media posts and as features in local news stories.

Third-year Caroline Jung, aware of these narratives, hopes for the shutdown to soon end, empathizing with families struggling to make ends meet, sharing, “It’s sad to see … the president needs to be open to compromise.”

First-year Daniel Pielago also believes the government shutdown has continued for too long, sympathizing with the workers affected by the shutdown. “It’s unfair some government officials have to work without pay.” At least 80 members of Congress, who qualify as “essential employees,” and are therefore being paid during the shutdown, have said they will refuse their paychecks or donate their earnings to workers not receiving paychecks during this time.

In result of the lack of staff monitoring national park grounds, vandals have cut down and spray-painted protected Joshua trees within California’s Joshua Tree National Park. Third-year political science student Abram Johnson is currently learning about the varying communities and institutions growing deprived of resources as the government shutdown continues, including indigenous American tribes, whom are missing out on millions of dollars in federal funding each day the shutdown continues.

Airport security lines, run by Transportation Security Administration (T.S.A.) who are among the 800,000 unpaid workers, have come to a crawl, where nearly three times the amount of employees have called out sick this week compared to the same week last year.

Additionally, Clemson University, winners of this year’s national college football championship, continued tradition by meeting with President Trump for a jubilant, candelabra-lit warmed by heat lamp fast-food (primarily from McDonald’s), White House dinner on Jan. 14, the 24th day of the shutdown. In cause of the majority of the residential White House staff furloughed, the president pressed that he, with his own funds, purchased the dinner for the athletes, commenting that among the feast, there were “many, many fries.”

On Jan. 15, the 25th day of the shutdown, the Department of Social Services announced that SNAP/ food stamp recipients, who comprise approximately 1/8th of all Americans, will receive their January and February benefits simultaneously.

This premature dispersion is due to the department not knowing when the shutdown will be resolved, preventing families that rely heavily upon these benefits from going hungry. If the government shutdown is not resolved past February, it is presumed that additional benefits will not be supplemented.

However, the shutdown has affected more than just government employees.

Two SPU first-year students, who asked for their names to not be published, shared that they know of students who tried to access the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) website to apply for student aid, but could not due to the shutdown, noting, “the people in the government need to figure it out … if they felt the effects, they’d be more inclined.”

In light of the shutdown, President Trump has asked landlords of government employees to “go nice and easy” on those that will not be able to pay rent in these upcoming months. On Jan. 19, a day short of his two-year anniversary in office, Trump made an announcement regarding the “Humanitarian Crisis on our Southern Border, and the Shutdown.”

Threatening to utilize emergency powers to seize wall funds and keep the government shutdown for years, President Trump says that he is “very proud of doing what I’m doing,” even remarking that he isn’t even calling the closure of the majority of the government as a shutdown.

 

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