Debate over wall sparks government shutdown

By Stephanie Lingenfelter
Editor in Chief

Dec. 22 to Jan. 25, 35 days, marked the longest government shutdown in U.S. history. The government opened back up Jan. 28, but only temporarily. On Feb. 15, Congress and Trump will come back together to try and reach a compromise. If no agreement is reached, the government could shut down again.

A government shutdown typically occurs after an agreement on the budget for the next fiscal year fails to be reached between the House of Representatives, Senate and president. According to CNN, President Trump ordered a government shutdown after being denied $5 billion in funding for a wall along the border of the United States and Mexico to help prevent illegal immigration.

According to U.S. House Representative Trey Hollingsworth, the shutdown started Dec. 20 after the House passed a bill funding the government and allocating funding to the southern border, but the bill didn’t pass the Senate.

On Dec. 22, Trump ordered a partial shutdown, meaning departments like the Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Education, Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Defense and others that are funded year-round were still open.

According to NBC, services that are considered non-essential, and therefore closed during a shutdown, include the national parks and museums and many government research laboratories. Some national parks were trashed the first few weeks of the government shutdown and irreversible damage was done to Yosemite by people taking advantage of the lack of DNR officers patrolling the parks. Many government workers still had to go to work everyday, including airport security and FBI agents, but most weren’t being paid. Others were just on leave from their jobs. Active military members were still paid for their service, except for the 42,000 members of the Coast Guard. Trump has already announced all government workers who weren’t paid during the shutdown would receive back pay, but for 35 days, they had no income coming in.

State Senator Greg Walker made it clear that the state of Indiana was never on shutdown. The shutdown was only for the federal government.

“The State of Indiana is not on shutdown. The state administers many aspects of social welfare programs that may be funded in part or in whole by federal tax, so in the short term none of these will cease, but Indiana may have extra work getting reimbursement,” Walker said.

Hollingsworth believes years of short-term solutions led to the shutdown.

“This [was] the longest government shutdown in our country’s history, and this unprecedented dysfunction in Washington needs to be addressed at its roots. The current state of our government reflects a long-standing problem. For decades now, our government has operated under short-term solutions and stop-gap funding, which do not solve problems or provide certainty to Americans,” Hollingsworth said.

Senior Ben Kelley has been reading and learning about the shutdown since it first began. From what he’s read, it’s hard to tell if an agreement will be reached by Feb. 15.

“According to the Pew Research Center, since the government shutdown, Republicans favor for the wall is at an all time high of 82% while Democrats favor for the wall is at a new low of just 6%,” Kelley said.

Hollingsworth promises to continue to work towards a solution to this disagreement in D.C., where he’s spent most of his time since the start of the shut down.

“Providing stability for the American people who count on their government is a cornerstone of good governance, and I will continue to fight to fix this broken Washington system and ensure your government is working for Hoosiers,” Hollingsworth said.

Republican and Democratic members of Congress are still working with Trump to reach an agreement on the U.S. budget.

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