A Recap of The Recent Government Shutdown

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Gracie Miller | gmiller27@radford.edu

There have been 18 government shutdowns in U.S. history. Six of those were in the late 1970s ranging from eight to 17 days. The most prolonged government shutdown in history was in late 1995, this lasted for three weeks, sending thousands of government employees without paychecks who have to wait until their next pay period to get paid. There was one in 2013 which lasted for 16 days, but of course, the most recent government shutdown would be the one that happened this past weekend.

A government shutdown typically occurs when lawmakers cannot agree on what to fund before the Fiscal Year, Oct. 1. In this case, the Republican and Democrat Parties needed to decide on Jan. 19, which is when the stopgap spending bill expired.

The Democratic Party made a few demands, such as funding for a Children’s Health Insurance Program, a boost for veterans’ care, disaster relief to hurricane-stricken areas, and a broader intervention in the opioid epidemic. The Democrats were frustrated with the stop-and-start nature of short-term spending bills. They also did not want to vote on another spending bill until they had an agreement, or a fix, for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), meaning the Democrats blocked a Senate bill that would fund the government. Thus causing, our three-day shutdown.

President Trump and Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York came close to an agreement to hopefully avert a government shutdown. Later on Friday the president and his chief of staff demanded more concessions on immigration.

Much of the federal government officially shut down early on Saturday morning after Democrats on the Senate blocked consideration of a stopgap spending measure to keep the government operating.

Officials at the White House Office of Management and Budget had even spent the past week consulting with federal agencies on contingency plans in the event of a shutdown; this is the fourth time in the past year they had to make preparations for this.

Saturday, the first official day of the shutdown, Republican and Democratic leaders spent a lot of their time assigning blame to each other. The House and the Senate were in session on Saturday, but that does not mean they were getting anything done.

“The solution is to end the foolishness. It’s hurting millions of Americans who have done absolutely nothing to deserve this,” Republican Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said.

Finally, the Democrats received the commitment they wanted from the Republicans to hold a vote on immigration legislation. However, they still compromised a lot of what they wanted to reopen the government. McConnel and Schumer agreed to continue negotiating on immigration and spending matters. This is what lead the way to end of the three-day government shutdown.

The Senate voted 81-18 in favor of passing a bill to fund the government through Feb. 8. Later the bill was sent to the House where it received a vote of 266-150. President Trump then signed the bill. This short-term spending bill also contains a six-year funding renewal of a popular Children’s Health Insurance program.

The government has been signing short-term spending bills into place since the beginning of the fiscal year in October. There are still multiple disagreements between the two sides, for example, how much to invest in the opioid crisis, how much to spend on disaster aid, and more. So, if the Democrats and Republicans cannot agree by Feb. 8, Congress is at risk for another shutdown.