Dustin Steinhoff, News Editor
The sitting members of the United States Congress and President Donald Trump have broken a record for the federal government. Unfortunately, that record would be for the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.
There have been numerous partial government shutdowns in the U.S. before, but the one the U.S. is currently facing is its longest yet, lasting nearly a whole month and showing few signs of stopping.
The shutdown occurred as all shutdowns do: a spending bill had to be passed by Congress and signed by the president. When this does not happen by its deadline, the government partially shuts down until negotiations between Democrats and Republicans are made and a spending plan can be written and signed by the president.
The partial government shutdown that the U.S. currently finds itself in was prompted largely by Trump’s refusal to sign spending bills that lack $5.7 billion to start building a southern border wall.
One of the most disastrous effects of this lengthy government shutdown is the hundreds of thousands of federal government workers who have gone nearly a month without pay.
The government shutdown is also affecting the productivity and performance of government services. According to the Associated Press, the government shutdown is stalling federal firefighter training. During the winter when wildfires are less common, wildfire managers prepare for the upcoming wildfire season. As a result of the shutdown, firefighting training courses are being cancelled due to the government employee furlough. The effect of this can be felt by state and local firefighters who are left without federal instructors to conduct training programs.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi advised President Donald Trump to reschedule his State of the Union address or deliver it via writing in a letter she sent to him Jan. 16. In the letter, Pelosi explained the reasoning was due to security staffing concerns caused by the government shutdown. In response, Trump sent a letter to Pelosi informing her that her scheduled trip to Brussels, Egypt and Afghanistan had been canceled due to the shutdown. Trump ended the letter with, “I look forward to seeing you soon and even more forward to watching our open and dangerous Southern Border finally receive the attention, funding, and security it so desperately deserves!”
Jan. 17, pledging to its staffers that it would find the money to pay them, the State Department ordered that its workers return to work Jan. 22 (unless the work week begins on Sunday, in which case should return to work Jan. 20) despite the government shutdown still taking place. Deputy Under Secretary for Management Bill Told sent a message to the staff stating, “it is imperative that the Department of State carries out its mission. We are best positioned to do so with fully staffed embassies, consulates, and domestic offices.”
The previous record for the longest government shutdown was set by President Bill Clinton and his acting Congress. It lasted 21 days, from December 1996 until January 1996, coming to an end once Clinton and Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich were able to reach an agreement. With the House of Representatives obtaining a Republican majority which had not occurred in the 40 years prior, Gingrich took the opportunity to try and pass a budget with large spending cuts. However Clinton, a Democrat, claimed their proposed budget had too deep of a cut to education and the environment as well as an increase in Medicare premiums. Unable to come to a decision, the government was shutdown for 21 days, becoming the longest U.S. government shutdown in history. This record was beat Jan. 12, 2019 when the shutdown caused by Trump and the current Congress entered its 22nd consecutive day.