US: Trump temporarily ends longest government shutdown in history
Amid mounting pressure and increasing disruptions in government functioning, US President Donald Trump, on Friday, sounded a strategic retreat and temporarily ended the longest US government shutdown in history. However, the President remains adamant about funding for his border wall, and has warned of another shutdown, or even declaring a national emergency, if funding for the wall is not approved. Here are the details.
To refresh your memory, the partial US government shutdown commenced on December 22, owing to a disagreement over a funding deal. While Trump demanded that the border wall - his signature campaign promise - be funded, Democrats, who control the House of Representatives, flatly refused. The consequent impasse resulted in the Congress getting adjourned without a funding deal being passed.
The deal to end the partial government shutdown comes after 35 days, and has no provision for funding Trump's border wall. Further, the deal is a short-term one, and funding for federal agencies has only been approved for three weeks - up until February 15. In this period, a bipartisan committee of legislators will also be constituted to look into the border spending issue.
In the event that funding for the border wall is not secured by the stipulated deadline, Trump has threatened consequences. He has said that another government shutdown could be initiated in such a scenario. Trump has also threatened to declare a national emergency to secure funds for the wall as an alternative to another government shutdown.
Given the short duration of the deal to end the government shutdown, and Trump's threats, the deal is being seen as a strategic retreat by the President - the fight seems to be far from over. That said, federal employees who have been working without pay for over a month, will breathe a sigh of relief now that the shutdown has been temporarily halted.
I wish people would read or listen to my words on the Border Wall. This was in no way a concession. It was taking care of millions of people who were getting badly hurt by the Shutdown with the understanding that in 21 days, if no deal is done, it’s off to the races!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 26, 2019
Since the government shutdown started, some 800,000 federal employees have worked without pay. On Friday, hundreds of flights got delayed at US airports as air traffic controllers working without pay called in sick. Earlier, the FBI had complained that the shutdown was affecting its investigations into terrorism, narcotics, and sex trafficking. Thousands of Internal Revenue Service (IRS) workers, too, called in sick ahead of the tax filing season.
Disruptions to government services apart, the partial US shutdown, according to S&P Global Ratings, also resulted in the US economy losing as much as $6bn in lost productivity from furloughed federal employees and economic activity lost to outside business.