As of Jan. 16, the government shutdown has lasted twenty-six days. The shutdown was caused by President Donald Trump’s unreasonable demands for $5 billion for his border wall and Democrats’ refusal to meet this demand.
This is the third shutdown under Trump’s leadership and the longest in U.S. history. It has surpassed the 1995-1996 shutdown caused by former President Bill Clinton, debating the 1996 federal budget.
For many of us, it can be difficult to see the effects of a government shutdown, especially one of this magnitude. To put it simply, nine of the fifteen federal departments are affected by the shutdown, which collectively employ about 800,000 people. A government shutdown lasting nearly a month means that these 800,000 people are left without paychecks. A lack of funding also means that these employees are unable to properly do their jobs. How does this impact us as citizens?
The United States Department of Agriculture has determined that should the shutdown progress beyond February, they will not have funds to keep food assistance programs running. To put that in perspective, about one in seven Michigan residents relied on food assistance programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in 2017. Should the shutdown continue, SNAP participants will no longer have access to food assistance.
For further issues regarding food, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), another department impacted by the shutdown, had to cease food inspections due to the shutdown. Some employees have returned to work inspecting high-risk foods, including fresh vegetables and baby formula, but they are doing so without pay. The risk of foodborne illnesses like E. coli and salmonella will continue to increase if the government shutdown continues. This was already an area of concern due to Trump’s budget cuts to the FDA, which has led to a surge in food recalls.
According to NPR, more and more TSA agents are calling in sick to work because they are not being paid. The number of agents in airports has been dropping each day.
Those who are coming into work, obviously upset with the severity of the shutdown, are not performing to the best of their ability. Two separate occurrences of plane passengers accidentally taking loaded firearms onto planes have been reported, including a flight from Atlanta to Tokyo, according to CNN. Should the shutdown continue, issues like this will become more severe.
The Environmental Protection Agency has had to halt inspections of oil refineries and power plants. A continued government shutdown may lead to issues like oil spills and other environmentally damaging events.
National park staff members being sent home without pay means that the country’s national parks are open but are being trashed by wildlife and humans. Some of the most beautiful natural spaces in the United States may become too dangerous to upkeep, let alone visit.
These are just a few of the problems we are facing due to our country being led by a petulant toddler who is mad he is not getting his way. There is absolutely no reason for this shutdown to be lasting as long as it is, over something so blatantly racist, xenophobic, and at its core, just plain paranoid.
Trump has stated that he is happy to continue the shutdown in order to preserve the safety of the country and its citizens, but the facts above prove that safety is obviously not one of his concerns.
This shutdown is a perfect example of how America’s most important political institutions are splitting at the seams. Because of Trump’s inability to listen to reason, his idea to improve security is to put every single American at risk.
The safety of the American people will be in jeopardy with this shutdown. If a compromise is not reached, some changes in our country’s leadership will have to happen.