The Government Shutdown Comes to an End


Trump announces the deal to reopen the government for three weeks (Olivier Douliery / Getty Images)

Jake Bednarski, Contributing Writer

When President Trump tweeted, “If the Dems vote no, there will be a shutdown that will last for a very long time,” he wasn’t lying. In fact, the partial government shutdown only ended on Friday. Over 800,000 government workers will return back to work on Monday, January 28th, and will be reimbursed for weeks of not working. Still, however, as of now, the government is only temporarily reopened for the next three weeks.

This comes after a 36-day shutdown, the longest ever in U.S. history. One-fourth of the government was unfunded and 800,000 workers were furloughed, of which about 420,000 worked without pay during the shutdown. Congress was in a jam, and the Senate blocked two bills on Thursday that were White House-backed and would have reopened the government. The most recent bill proposed before the reopening of the government was denied with a vote of 52-44 with Republicans voting against the stopgap deal. This was just short of the 60 votes needed to break the filibuster.

One of the most impacted government services that was unfunded was the TSA. TSA workers were forced to return to their posts and work without pay. Many decided to not report to work, instead doing things like calling in sick, as they knew their labor would go unpaid. Another important organization that forced workers to continue to work through the shutdown was the IRS. Around now, the IRS enters its busiest time of the year. With no budget in sight, people working in the service were called back to work before Monday the 28th. However, many requested to stay home, quoting a line in their union contracts. If the government does not reach an acceptable budgetary deal after the three weeks of funding, the IRS could experience further troubles. Further, most homeowners would need to send in their taxes while the government would be potentially unfunded, causing widespread fines for late taxes.

Other agencies where employees were affected are the State Department, the Justice Department, the Transportation Department, the Agriculture Department, and the Department of the Interior. These agencies comprise around one-fourth of the government.

Since President Donald Trump only temporarily reopened the government, all government-operated facilities will be fully funded until February 15th. The bill does not address the idea that started the shutdown in the first place: the President’s border wall between the United States and Mexico. After the three weeks, it is expected that the wall will be brought up again in Congress.

In addition, the temporarily funded government means that the President will most likely give his State of the Union address. Nancy Pelosi, the majority leader in the House of Represenatives, asked him to reopen the government before she would allow the speech to take place in the Chamber, writing him a letter saying, “I look forward to welcoming you to the House on a mutually agreeable date for this address when the government has been reopened.” At this year’s State of the Union, which is President Trump’s last, it can be expected to hear more about his wall and plans for the new, permanent government budget.

Many are wondering what it will take to permanently reopen the government after the temporary budget runs out. The 52-44 vote that took place on Thursday saw Republican Senators Lamar Alexander (TN), Susan Collins (ME), Cory Gardner (CO), Johnny Isakson (GA), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Mitt Romney (UT) vote for the bill. These Senators and possibly others could break party lines to pass the bill needed to open the government for the remainder of the President’s term.