The Longest Government Shutdown in US History

Photo by Mitchell Valentin

As a college student here at Penn State, the government shutdown most likely does not directly affect you. Because of this, it is easy to become oblivious to what is currently happening to our government. Similar to previous government shutdowns in U.S. past, this current shutdown boils down to two sides in disagreement about funding for a project. In this case, the U.S. Senate is in disagreement with President Donald Trump about funding for a wall on the border of Mexico.

At midnight on December 21, 2018, the U.S. federal government began its shutdown. By today,  January 21, 2019, it has lasted 31 days making it the longest government shutdown in U.S. history with no end in sight. The whole ordeal started when the U.S. Senate approved $1.6 billion for a wall on the border of Mexico. Trump is demanding $5.7 billion for the border wall as a proposed solution for border security. Trump demanded the additional $5 billion for the wall and threatened to shut down the government if the funding did not appear. When negotiations with members of the Senate did not happen, it was clear that the government had been shut down.

Below is a list is taken from The Washington Post to show which government programs do not currently have funding.

Here are the major departments that shut down:

  • Commerce, except National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
  • Education.
  • Energy. Functions that oversee the safety of the nation’s nuclear arsenal, dams and transmission lines remain open.
  • Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Food and Drug Administration.
  • Health and Human Services.
  • Housing and Urban Development.
  • Interior, including National Parks.
  • Internal Revenue Service, except those processing tax returns.
  • Labor, including Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • NASA.
  • National Institute of Health.
  • Smithsonian.

Although this is an extensive list of programs that are not being funded, this is not where the ripple effects of the government shutdown stop. For example, the closing of our government is heavily affecting our National Parks. The National Park Service Personnel are a part of the hundreds of thousands of government employees that are not getting paid. This is causing many of America’s public lands to be uncared for and unsupervised. According to the National Parks Conservation Association, many public parks are closed due to public safety and resource protection concerns. The National Parks Conservation recently described a monstrosity of an event that occurred on January 8 at Joshua Tree National Park. During this event, vandals cut locks off of closed entrance gates, killed Joshua trees and drove vehicles illegally in closed parts of the park, creating new roads through pristine desert areas.

Not only does the shutdown affect government programs like our national parks, but it also drastically affects the U.S. economy as a whole. The New York Times warns us in saying that because of the shutdown, “The economy could easily stall in the first quarter, and then the question is what happens in the second if the shutdown persists, knowing the longer it goes on, the longer it takes to recover.”

Looking upon what we now know about the current government shutdown, we can agree that it is essential for the well-being of this country that our government comes to a consensus on the current disagreement involving budgeting for our national defense.


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