How a government shutdown works

Billie Firmin, Editor

For the past 27 days, the United States has been in the midst of a partial government shutdown. President Donald Trump and the Democrats of the House of Representatives have been in a standoff over funding for a wall along the southern border. This shutdown is the longest in history- the previous record was 21 days stretching over late 1995 to early 1996 under President Bill Clinton.

A partial government shutdown occurs when Congress does not pass legislation to fund the government, or when the acting president refuses to sign legislation passed by Congress. Once this happens, parts of the government do not have sufficient funds to remain open and operating. Therefore, departments and agencies are forced to stop spending, so no workers can be paid and projects requiring funding must be canceled or delayed.

Government agencies that are often affected by shutdowns include the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Treasury, the Department of Transportation, the Department of State, and the Department of the Interior. Employees of these departments will work without pay as long as the government remains closed.

Other agencies are affected as well; according to a fact sheet created by the Democratic staff of the Senate Appropriations Committee, over 380,000 government employees will be furloughed over the course of this shutdown, including workers at NASA and within the National Parks Service.  Shutdowns have a negative effect on the economy. Kevin Hassett, the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers for the Trump administration, said on January 15 that every week the government remains shut down, the economy loses 0.13 percentage points of growth for the quarter.
Government employees are not the only Americans who experience the effects of a shutdown. Travelers are one of the most affected groups, as they deal with increasingly long lines at airports, especially while passing through security, due to a lack of Transportation Security Agency agents coming to work.

The only way a shutdown will end is if Congress and the President come to an agreement about whatever issue they have come to a stalemate over- in this case, border security. President Trump will either accept a funding bill that does not include financial support for the border wall, or Congress will include the requested 5.7 billion. However, the shutdown currently has no end in sight, with both parties standing firm behind their beliefs.

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