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Why has the U.S. Government shut down? What is shut, and what is not?

Why has the U.S. Government shut down? What is shut, and what is not?

2018-01-21, Pankaj Thapa (With inputs from Reuters Report)

President Trump and the U.S Congress failed to meet a Friday midnight deadline to pass a short term funding bill to extend federal funding, which has caused the U.S. Government to shut down.  The government had been operating on temporary funding measures since the end of the fiscal year in September. Short term funding measures were being adopted as Republicans and Democrats were not being able to agree on spending levels.


A major reason for the political deadlock was because the Republicans failed to address Democratic concerns about young undocumented migrants from the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program. The Democrats want a funding measure to be tied to the immigration deal that protects the thousands of young immigrants facing deportation which is set to expire on March 5. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was an American immigration policy that allowed individuals who entered the country as minors, and had either entered or remained in the country illegally, to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and to be eligible for a work permit. An estimated 800,000 individuals enrolled for the program, as of 2017. They are referred to as Dreamers after the Dream Act bill, established by the Obama Administration in 2012.   The policy was rescinded by Trump Administration in September, 2017.

Republicans are saying they would not negotiate on immigration until the government is reopened.

The shutdown has coincided on the day Trump was to mark his 1st year anniversary in office. He was sworn in on 20th January, 2017, the government shut down on 20th January, 2018.

The last time the U.S. Government had shut down before this was in 2013, under President Obama’s administration, from Oct 1 – Oct 16. The U.S. Government has witnessed 18 shutdowns till date, most (8) during Ronald Reagan’s presidency from 1981 – 1989. However, shutdowns before the 90’s would usually last 2-3 days and occurred usually during the weekend.

What is closed and what is not?

In shutdowns, non-essential government employees are furloughed, or placed on temporary unpaid leave. Workers deemed essential, including those dealing with public safety and national security, keep working. In the past, Congress has ensured retroactive pay and Trump’s administration has assured the same.

In a report by Reuters, they have listed in detail, what was shut during the previous government shutdown in 2013. A similar case scenario is expected,

The U.S. military and law enforcement agencies carry on their duties as usual. Air traffic control, federal prison, and postal services will function normally.

Social Security and disabled payments will continue, however other services could be interrupted. Medicare will continue unaffected.

The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts has said federal courts, including the Supreme Court, could continue to operate normally for about three weeks without additional funding.

Tax offices shall be furloughing a large percentage of their staffs.

The White House will see more than 50% of its staff furloughed.

Processing of mortgages and other loans was delayed when lenders could not access government services such as income and Social Security number verification. .

The Interior Department says national parks and other public lands will remain as accessible as possible, in contrast to the previous shutdowns.

Securities and Exchange Commission, the stock market policy makers have said they would remain open fully staffed for a limited number of days.

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