The Crisis of the Government Shutdown

When Donald Trump, the 45th President of the United States, was inaugurated into office, he was clear in stating that he wanted to “build the wall.” The wall would secure the U.S. southwestern border to prevent illegal immigration. This wall would cost approximately $5.7 billion to construct.

Every year the President and Congress must compromise on a federal budget. This budget funds the operations of the U.S. federal government. For example, the money is used to pay salaries for federal workers: air traffic, IRS, FBI and Homeland Security workers.

It is common that an agreement is not reached by its deadline. When this occurs, Congress usually passes a temporary funding measure called the Continuing Resolution (CR). In the most recent fiscal year, a CR was passed by Congress through December 21, 2018. On December 21, 2018, a deal was still not reached. This lead to the government shutdown which began on December 22 and lasted until January 25, 2019 (35 days). The sticking point was that President Trump demanded the $5.7 billion for the border wall to be included in the budget, but Congress refused.

For these 35 days, around 800,000 federal workers were working without pay. This was a problem for many parts of the government: specifically airports. Many Transportation Security Administration (TSA) workers were calling in sick since they would be doing their job without pay. These people began a search for jobs not funded by the government. Without as many TSA workers, the security line was extra slow, causing delays and even forcing flights to be canceled. This was a major concern for the mayor of Atlanta, Keisha Lance Bottoms, because Atlanta hosted Super Bowl LIII. Also, another major problem during this shutdown was that the economy lost billions of dollars. With all of these things happening, there was a lot of pressure put on President Trump and Congress to make an agreement.

On January 25, 2019, President Trump finally agreed to reopen the government for 3 weeks by signing a bill. For those three weeks, all government activity will open, so federal workers will be paid. Although the President and Congress have an extra three weeks, it is not looking very encouraging that a deal will be made. So far Congress and President Trump have been very clear that they aren’t interested in negotiations. President Trump stated, “If we don’t get a fair deal from Congress, the government will either shut down on Feb. 15, or I will use the powers afforded to me under the laws and Constitution of the United States to address this emergency.” By using his powers, President Trump can call a state of emergency to get the money to build his wall. Although declaring a state of emergency seems plausible for Trump, Congress can sue for unlawful use of Presidential authority. President Trump doesn’t sound fearful of going to court as he said, “I think there’s a good chance we will have to do that,” when asked about declaring a state of emergency. As of right now, most people are completely unsure of what to expect on February 15, will there be a deal struck, will President Trump declare a state of emergency or will the government be shut down once again?