On the Verge: The First Government Shutdown in Five Years

By Katey Herndon

On Friday, January 19th, the government braced itself for a shutdown. A government shutdown happens when Congress cannot approve a federal budget for the fiscal year. When a budget cannot be agreed on, the government must shut down until a decision is reached and a bill is passed. When the government gets shut down, not every federally funded agency is shutdown. Some were sent home with no pay while others worked, to get paid later when a budget gets passed.

One of the main reasons for the government shutdown was DACA, which stands for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. DACA was created in 2012 by former president Barack Obama. It allows people brought to the U.S. illegally as children to the right to live, study, and work here in America. The program protects over 800,000 unauthorized immigrant minors. Since DACA was an executive policy decision, it could be reversed.

A majority of the Democrats support DACA and refused to pass a bill for the budget until it dealt with the issue of DACA. The Republicans refuse to protect DACA and the Dreamers, making it hard for both parties to come to a decision. Many of the Republicans have blamed the Democrats for the shutdown.

President Trump repealed the DACA act in September, promising to end DACA, stop accepting new applications, and forcing permits to expire in March 2018. Many states filed a lawsuit after President Trump announced that he was reversing the DACA act on the grounds that his decision was cruel and unlawful. The President encouraged Congress to keep the government open, on the grounds of the U.S. military. Republicans want to double military spending, while Democrats want to balance military and nondefense spending. Many blamed the President for the shutdown, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Many protestors in support of DACA gathered in the Russell Senate Office Building protesting to keep DACA alive and running.

President Trump signed a bill ending the shutdown 69 hours later. Even though the government reopened after a short time being shutdown, the Republican and Democratic parties did not reach an agreement. It has been decided that both parties have three weeks, until February 8th, to resolve the differences over immigration, defense funding, and social programs.

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