This Government Shutdown Affects Everyone


Praveen Tomy

Connor Casne-Jones, Head Writer

Government shutdowns have become increasingly common in our nation. This is the 21st government shutdown in American history, and the 3rd shutdown during President Trump’s term. To put that in perspective, during Obama’s 8-year tenure as president, he had one shutdown in 2013. It was due to the Continuing Appropriations Resolution which eventually ended when the Continuing Appropriations Act was passed, allowing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (or “Obama Care” as many refer to it) to pass. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was President Obama’s crowning achievement in office. It looks like Trump has implemented a similar tactic in order to get his crowning achievement “the border wall.” But it looks like Trump may take it a little further and “declare a state of emergency” in order to build such a wall. This government shutdown affects regular, everyday people. If you would like to learn more about what government shutdown is, please read “Government Shutdown” also up on the Nugget.

A government shutdown’s effects are not limited to high-ranking government officials. It is reasonable to assume each and every American has been affected by the shutdown or knows someone that has. The shutdown can make it difficult for any family that relies on a paycheck from the federal government. People that work important jobs such as food and safety inspectors, federal attorneys, and even National Park Rangers at places like Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks, go without paychecks at least until the shutdown is over. But that’s not the worst of it, people working lower wage jobs like janitors, security guards and cafeteria workers could be without pay if they work at place like the Smithsonian (a federal museum). These people have bills to pay and may be unable to do so because of the shutdown. So what are these people to do?

For anyone living paycheck to paycheck, they may need to apply for a new job, as no one knows when the shutdown will end. But even once the shutdown has ended, they will not receive a paycheck immediately, they will receive a paycheck whenever their next payday is, and if Congress authorizes it backpay (pay from the time during the shutdown) in 3 or more weeks.  Just imagine if you or your parents were to lose their job and were unable to get a new one for months. Surely this would be terrible for any family.

But a shutdown does not just affect government workers; it affects our federal courts too. Criminal work (getting warrants, putting criminals in jail, FBI investigations, etc.) will continue, and those attorneys and support staff are at work every day without pay. Civil work is for the most part, shut down (or “on furlough”). These attorneys do not go to work and are not getting payed. In order to keep the courts running for criminal matters, the courts typically have about a month or so of funding in event of a shutdown which pays judges and support staff. But most civil cases are pushed back until the shutdown is over. Some very important civil cases such as constitutional issues, will continue, but those are very special cases. Lots of civil cases such as bankruptcy, tort claims, breach of contract claims, equitable claims, and landlord/tenant issues will not continue during the shutdown.

This shutdown in particular is terrifying for government employees. Congress is not required to give backpay to workers that did not work during the shutdown, and if there’s ever been a congress or president that would not issue backpay, they are currently in office. Unfortunately, there is still no end in sight for the government shutdown. On January 9th President Trump visited with Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi to talk about a potential end to the shutdown, however our president walked out when speaker of the house Pelosi said that they would never fully fund the wall, as it has been proposed. In typical Donald Trump fashion, the nation’s president sent out this tweet to comfort Americans: “Just left a meeting with Chuck and Nancy, a total waste of time. I asked what is going to happen in 30 days if I quickly open things up, are you going to approve Border Security which includes a Wall or Steel Barrier? Nancy said, NO. I said bye-bye, nothing else works!”