It hasn’t been long since America’s midterm elections, but it has already begun to face the consequences of a deeply divided and painfully partisan government.
On Dec. 22, 2018, the government was forced to shut down all “unnecessary functions” under the Antideficiency Act of 1982 due to the legislative and executive branches’ inability to reconcile fiscal policy priorities.
President Donald Trump wants 5.7 billion dollars allocated to building a wall on the Mexican-American border, something he promised he would make happen should he win the 2016 election. After two years in office, despite having both the Senate and House of Representatives be dominated by his own party, little funding had been provided for the promised wall. However, the midterm allowed Democrats to take majority in the House, ensuring a deadlock for, at least, the next two years of Trump’s term.
Additionally, the midterm marked exactly the halfway point in Trump’s term. From here on out, should Trump wish to win a second term, every action of his will be monitored with an even higher intensity as the 2020 election inches closer, and his opposition is desperate to stop him at whatever the costs. It is safe to say that, if Trump is unable to deliver on his wall promise, most of his own support base may turn against him.
For the federal government, a fiscal year begins Oct. 1 of the previous year. For example, the 2019 fiscal year began Oct. 1 2018, and ends Sept. 30 2019. Starting the fiscal year in October allows the new government of an election year to immediately begin participating in federal budget. By the time the new calendar year begins, a federal budget should be finalized and approved by both branches. Because Democrats hold the majority in House, the party refuses to approve of any budget that includes wall funding, especially for the 5.7 billion total that Trump is requesting. They refuse to write a budget for wall funding, and in response, Trump refuses to approve the budget.
The issue at hand is not whether or not the wall is worth a 35-day partial government shutdown, but rather is it okay for a shutdown to continue on for that long, as the consequences of shutting down the “unnecessary functions” of government take a toll on the affected federal employees who were either furloughed (forced into a temporary leave) or worked for a month without any pay or compensation.
To mitigate these issues, on Jan. 25, Trump ordered the government to resume normal functions for three weeks in order for affected workers to resume collecting pay. However, if the issue is still not resolved by Feb. 15, the government will resume its partial shutdown.
Jan 25. marked the 35th day of the shutdown, and if nothing is resolved by Feb 15, there is no saying how long the shutdown will continue afterwards. According to Time Magazine, over 800,000 federal workers were affected, not including employees of private companies who were contracted out to work for the government.
While a government shutdown can be beneficial in the sense that decisions must be made much quicker as a feeling of urgency to end the shutdown presses down upon Congress. However, 35 days and possibly more coming is too long, and yet with a shutdown pressing down upon Congress, still nothing has happened and compromise is nowhere in sight. While shutdowns cannot be totally erased, there should be a limit placed on how long the shutdown can continue for consecutively.
Unrelated workers should not have the suffer due to a partisan disagreement. This is a warning about the future of American politics, as the government is bound to partisan pettiness and loyalties. Nothing the government is doing is benefiting the people, wall or not. People will be second to party loyalty, and the deep-set divisions will only grow with time, ensuring a government that will never be able to move forward.
Aliya Leary // Business Manager