Historic Government Shutdown On Trump’s Year-One Anniversary
On January 20, 2017, Donald J. Trump was sworn in as President of the United States and, exactly one year later, the Federal government shutdown. By law, the government is only allowed to accrue a certain amount of debt. Once that limit is reached, lawmakers either have to agree to an increase or our government closes up shop. This fiscal year, Congress already passed three short-term or stopgap spending measures. The last of these expired on January 19, 2018, and, because a deal could not be reached, the government shutdown began at midnight on January 20. This marks the first time in U.S. history that the government ceased operations while a single party, in this case, the Republicans or GOP, controlled the House, the Senate, and the White House.
When the government shuts down, all non-essential operations cease and employees who perform these jobs are sent home without pay, though they may later be reimbursed for lost wages. Essential employees such as those in the military and border patrol will still have to report to work but will not receive paychecks until the government resumes business.
Unable to Agree
Presently, lawmakers are unable to agree on several contentious issues such as the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program which exempts certain undocumented immigrants from deportation. President Trump stated he would end the program in March if Congress did not vote to extend it. Democrats want such an agreement before they’ll vote to approve the current appropriations bill. Another issue is defense spending versus domestic spending. The Republicans want an increase in military spending and Democrats want an equal increase in domestic spending. The two parties have nearly come to terms on this matter but Democrats are withholding their final approval pending an agreement on DACA.
In order to try to force Democrats to agree to another stopgap spending measure, Republicans said they would approve a six-year reauthorization of Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) as long as Dems agreed to drop their DACA demands. In response, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Democrat-California) said, “This is like giving you a bowl of doggy doo, putting a cherry on top, and calling it a chocolate sundae.”
Overall, President Trump has complicated negotiations by waffling over DACA, using a vulgar term to refer to some countries, and leaving his own party and everyone else guessing as to what he would accept in an agreement. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Republican-Kentucky) said, “I’m looking for something that President Trump supports, and he has not yet indicated what measure he is willing to sign.” Nevertheless, on January 21, Trump encouraged McConnell to change the rules in order to allow a long-term budget to be approved by a simple, 51-vote majority. McConnell declined to employ this so-called “nuclear option.”