US government shutdown enters day 22, becomes longest in history
The partial US government shutdown that began towards the end of last year has entered its 22nd day, making it the longest-ever US government shutdown in history. The shutdown, which began as a result of a disagreement between Democrats and Republicans, is nowhere close to coming to an end, as neither party is willing to compromise. Here are the details.
The partial US government shutdown commenced on December 21 following a disagreement between Democrats and Republicans over funding for US President Donald Trump's proposed border wall. Trump demanded $5.7bn for the US-Mexico border wall, but faced staunch opposition from the Democrats. The impasse led to the Congress being adjourned without reaching a new funding deal, resulting in a partial government shutdown.
As it stands, around three-quarters of the government, including vital services and government agencies like the military and the Department of Health and Human Services are fully funded till September 2019. However, the remaining quarter of the government is facing disruption, and hundreds of thousands of federal employees have been affected by the partial shutdown.
Essential services, even those that have not been funded yet, are continuing to function so that there is no disruption when it comes to day-to-day lives of Americans. However, employees of essential agencies that have not been funded yet, like the departments of Justice, Homeland Security etc., are having to work without pay - they won't get paid till a funding agreement is reached.
In terms of numbers, over 420,000 federal employees deemed essential for the functioning of the government are working without pay, including 41,000 law enforcement officers and 150,000 Homeland Security employees. Meanwhile, more than 380,000 federal employees, including NASA, Commerce department, Housing and Urban development, Internal Revenue Service, and National Park Service employees, have been 'furloughed' or barred from doing work. They aren't getting paid either.
On Friday, around 800,000 federal workers received $0 paychecks, and understandably, anger is mounting over the partial shutdown. A day earlier, on Thursday, hundreds of federal employees gathered in Washington to protest against the ongoing shutdown, chanting slogans like "pay the workers; furlough Trump". However, President Trump wasn't there as he had left to visit the US-Mexico border wall. Protests also took place across the US, including places like Chicago and Dallas.
As anxiety and stress grows among federal workers over the seemingly never-ending shutdown, union leaders have warned that more protests will take place, not just in Washington, but across the country. Thousands of federal workers, who are not getting paid, are turning to charities and online fundraisers to feed their families and pay their dues. Meanwhile, two unions have sued the Trump administration.
Trump, however, remains adamant, and had earlier said that he was "prepared" to let the shutdown drag on for a year if it got him funding for his border wall. Recently, the President cancelled his visit to Davos for the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF), blaming the "intransigence" of the Democrats. As it stands, there is no solution in sight.