US government shuts down after disputes over Trump's border wall
After the clock struck midnight on December 21, US local time, the US government went into a partial shutdown. The shutdown was almost certain after the House had failed to reach a funding agreement on Friday, thanks to disputes over US President Donald Trump's border wall. As of now, it is unclear how long the shutdown will last. Here are the details.
The shutdown essentially means that no new funding agreement has been reached for dozens of federal agencies. It also means that roughly 800,000 federal employees will have to work without pay till a new deal is reached, while another 380,000 federal employees will be placed on 'furlough' and barred from doing work. In other words, Christmas isn't going to merry for many in USA.
OUR GREAT COUNTRY MUST HAVE BORDER SECURITY! pic.twitter.com/ZGcYygMf3a— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 22, 2018
The disagreement over a new funding agreement stemmed from President Trump's demand that his proposed border wall be given funding. Trump demanded that $5bn be allocated for the construction of the wall, but faced staunch opposition from the Democrats, who have a majority in the House. The consequent deadlock over the funding agreement resulted in the House getting adjourned without a spending deal.
Notably, this is the first time in over four decades that the US government has gone into three shutdowns in one calendar year. There is no possibility of reaching an 11th-hour deal right now, as the House will not meet before Saturday noon, US local time. Further, when it meets, there is no guarantee that an agreement will be reached.
With uncertainty over how long the government shutdown will last, roughly a quarter of US federal agencies are currently without funding, including the departments of Homeland Security, Justice, Housing, and Urban Development. This means that many employees in these agencies, including the Secret Service agents protecting the President will not get paid during the holiday season...or at least until a funding agreement is reached.
While it might turn out to be a gloomy holiday season for many US federal employees, the year itself hasn't looked very good for President Trump on the domestic front. Prior to losing a majority in the House in the crucial mid-term elections, the US government had shut down twice, in January and in February, owing to disagreements between Democrats and Republicans.
The shutdown in January lasted just short of three days, and resulted primarily out of a disagreement between Democrats and Republicans over the protection of the so called 'Dreamers' - people who had come to the US as small children. Meanwhile, the shutdown in February lasted a few hours, and was triggered single-handedly by Senator Rand Paul, after he objected to passing the proposed spending bill.
Including the 2018 shutdowns, there have been 21 shutdowns since 1976, when the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act was introduced to establish the budget process. However, only three are considered significant, two during the Bill Clinton regime and one during Obama's regime. The longest was in December 1995, when it lasted for 21 days. The Obama-era shutdown lasted for 16 days.