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The U.S. government shutdown

by Sasha Teman January 22, 2019
The U.S. government shutdown

Why we should care about the government shutdown in the U.S.

The U.S. government has shut down yet again, only this time it’s being regarded as the longest shutdown in U.S. history. It all started on Dec. 22, right before the holidays and unfortunately for the time being, there’s no end in sight. According to CBS News, this is the third government shutdown in 2018 alone. In order to gain a better understanding of the magnitude of the problem, there have only been three government shutdowns in the past 25 years up until 2018.

Government officials failed to come to an agreement concerning President Donald Trump’s decision to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. Trump’s refusal to approve a federal budget unless it includes funding for a border wall is beyond absurd. Democrats have rejected Trump’s request to do so for $5.7 billion. This has affected nine federal departments, leaving about 800,000 federal workers without pay.

The shutdown has had an impact on all sorts of industries. Employees such as prison guards, FBI agents and airport staff have been working without pay. Flying is now deemed less safe than before due to a shortage of TSA workers. Airline companies such as Delta airlines will lose revenue of $25 million this month given that fewer government contractors are flying.

On Tuesday, Jan. 15, a federal judge in Washington denied the request to pay workers who are continuing their jobs during the shutdown, including the nation’s air traffic controllers. According to NBC News, the union that represents thousands of air traffic controllers filed a lawsuit on Friday. They’re searching for a temporary restraining order against the federal government for violating the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. constitution, given that they’re being denied “hard-earned compensation without the requisite due process.”

On Thursday, federal workers all over the country missed their first paychecks since the beginning of the shutdown. According to NBC News, air traffic controllers and TSA workers expressed their concerns surrounding passengers’s safety during the shutdown. The air traffic control system in this country is an economic engine. At this moment, we’re seeing this incredible strain on the system, which is unacceptable given that it’s negatively impacting thousands of people.

Meanwhile on Craigslist, listings from federal workers trying to sell their possessions have been flooding the site. These items varied from beds to old toys, which have been listed as “government shutdown specials.” According to the BBC, of the 800,000 federal employees going unpaid, approximately 350,000 are furloughed, which is a temporary lay-off, while the rest remain at work. This past weekend, one of the country’s major airports, Miami International, closed an entire terminal because too many employees have been calling in sick.

Both the House and Senate have passed a bill on Friday to guarantee that all government workers will be receiving retroactive pay once the shutdown is over. Trump is still expected to sign the legislation but for the moment he’s still demanding that Democrats approve funding for a border wall. People’s lifestyles have been placed on hold as a result of this shutdown. Some fear for the worst, wondering if they’ll have enough money to pay next month’s rent, or for their medication.

Even though the shutdown isn’t directly affecting Canadians, it is highly relevant. Thousands of American citizens are left wondering how they’re going to pay their rent and provide for their families as the shutdown perseveres. Trump has been directing all his attention towards building this border wall when in reality this shutdown isn’t a fight about security. It’s affecting thousands of communities and families across the nation and makes us question whether Republicans in the White House are living in the same reality as the rest of the country.

All we can do now is hope for this shutdown to end before more damage is done. Even though they’ll get their pay back once the government reopens, these federal employees aren’t receiving money as their costs of living keep piling up.

Graphic by Ana Bilokin


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