What is a Government Shutdown?


Photo provided by: Creative Commons

President Donald Trump initiated a government shutdown on December 22, 2018.

Jo'Tazshya Stephens, Staff Reporter

A government shutdown occurs when the federal government closes due to lack of approval on the federal budget for the upcoming fiscal year. To be approved, Congress must pass all of the spending bills regarding the 1.407 trillion dollar federal budget.

At midnight on Dec. 22, 2018, President Donald Trump called for an emergency government shutdown. The shutdown was prompted due to the President’s desire for increased border security through a wall separating the US. and Mexican border. Congress refused to pass the bill needed for the wall due to budget concerns, which resulted in the shutdown. Twenty one government shutdowns have occurred since 1976 starting with President Gerald Ford to present-day with President Donald Trump. This government shutdown is the longest government shutdown in American history, lasting 35 days.  

“I believe that a government shutdown is never good to have,” chemistry and marine biology teacher David Duffy said. “The shutdown puts fear into the stock market. The best way to create money is to have a compromise and to gain the money periodically instead of in the matter of a couple months.”

In total, it will cost 5.7 billion dollars just to build a maximum of 80 miles of wall, leaving up to 1,954 miles unfinished. However, there is nearly 700 miles of fencing already established along the U.S. and Mexican border, made out of steel barriers which proved to be an unsuccessful material. President Trump describes the future of the wall to be “big” and “beautiful” but deeper descriptions of the wall has not been released. He hopes for it to reach up to 35 to 40 feet vertically and be made of concrete or “other material.”

“I believe that there is really no benefit from building the wall except that it will keep certain people out of the country,” sophomore Jaequon Henderson said. “The need for the wall has already caused tension and even more debt to the United States which we do not need.”

A shutdown is utilized to help save money for the construction, but it affects all federal paid employees and businesses. There are over 800,000 federal paid employees who worked without pay for the duration of the shutdown. Trump signed a bill stating that once the shutdown ends, all federal government employees who were affected will receive paychecks for their work throughout the shutdown. The shutdown has affected citizens that rely on Electronic Benefits Transactions (EBT). EBT is used for food stamps for families who are struggling financially or experiencing health problems. It provides an average of 125 dollars for each participant monthly, without it many students and families worry if they will be able to afford basic needs throughout a government shutdown.

“I think the government shutdown is ridiculous because it stems out of greed more than anything,” junior Natalia Negron said. “This shutdown has affected my family because neither of my parents have jobs due to one of them being disabled and the other having various health problems. So we rely off the government for EBT (food money) and health care. So, because of this government shutdown, it has caused various problems with our health care and we do not know if we are getting our EBT this month.”