Turning Off the Government

Gavin Kuncl, Writer

Monday, Jan. 7 marked the 17th day of the United States government being shut down. Dec. 22 was the beginning day, after President Trump and congressional Democrats could not agree on funding on the President’s wish for a southern border wall. Trump and Democratic leaders have met periodically, but next to no progress has been made.

Trump has expanded on his denial of Democrat propositions, saying that he was prepared to continue the partial shutdown for “months or even years” to Senator Chuck Schumer. He has also said that he is considering activating emergency powers. “I could do it if I wanted, Trump said to reporters in the Rose Garden. He then added that he would not need to consult Congress before doing so. If Trump managed to declare the fight over the wall as a national emergency, Defense Department money could be rerouted toward wall construction. The amount requested would fund about 234 miles of the 2,000-mile border. Currently, US Customs and Border Protection have 654 miles of fencing and barriers in place, with hostile environmental conditions also acting as barriers in some spots.

Schumer responded to the President by saying, “There is no excuse for hurting millions of Americans over a policy difference.”

Beginning on Dec. 22, the partial shutdown kicked off with funding for many federal agencies expiring. Trump, seeing this as an opportunity, refused to sign any spending bills unless the $5 billion for the border wall was included.

If the shutdown continues to Jan. 11, the federal court will run out of funding with hundreds of thousands of federal workers missing their next paycheck. Currently, nine out of 15 federal departments are closed as well as dozens of agencies. However, several funding bills were passed, so only about a quarter of government services are affected. Regardless, about 800,000 federal workers are furloughed or working without pay. Unstaffed national parks are only being maintained by volunteers.

Departments currently being affected are the FBI, ATF, DEA, CBP, State Department, Coast Guard, IRS, Department of Homeland Security, NASA, National Park Service, the Forest Service, the Transportation Department, the Commerce Department, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Being one of the departments affected, there were some worries on that the shutdown would not allow the IRS to get tax refunds out. Indeed, the shutdown had complicated the work. The agency had found itself dragged into the political theater as Democrats had used this fact to help pressure an agreement on a deal and reopening of the government. On Monday, Jan. 7, the Trump administration and the IRS reassured that tax refunds will go out. The IRS followed up with a statement that it had always believed that it had the abilities to pay refunds during a shutdown. The IRS has announced that the tax-filing season would begin on Jan. 28, similar in time to last year, in addition to a plan to recall workers ahead of the filing season and a contingency plan. This contingency plan has not been released yet. A trial by fire for the new IRS Commissioner, Charles Rettig, who started the job in October.


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