Explaining the Latest Government Shutdown


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Government shutdown Capitol dome illustration concept.

By: Timothy Goldsmith, Staff Writer

Government shutdowns are not a new concept in American politics. However, in recent years, there has been less bipartisanship and more conflict within the American government.  Shutdowns occur when Congress cannot agree on a budget for the government and their agencies. Congress has to vote on a budget every six months, which started during President Bill Clinton’s terms in the 1990s. Before then, the budget had to be ratified every year. This allowed both parties to spend time making a budget that suited their agendas, even though now is much less time to agree on a budget before a possible shutdown.

The latest shutdown is no exception as it is the longest government shutdown in American history, lasting thirty-five days long (December 22, 2018 -January 25, 2019). The 2018-19 Shutdown began when the Senate failed to pass the budget bill when President Trump asked Congress for five billion dollars for the construction of the border wall. One can remember that one of President Trump’s key campaign promises was to build a wall along the border of the United States and Mexico, and he is determined to follow through on his promise. The Shutdown remained because Congress could not agree on the budget. However, it was not hostile until this January, when the Democrats took control of the House of Representatives (following the Midterm Elections).

When the Democrats took the House, the shutdown had already lasted about a week. This meant two things: One, government employees were not going to be paid for the first week because there was not enough money in the budget to pay them. Two, Trump would not be able to get his border wall as easily as he thought he could. This led to a competition between Trump and the Democrats, where each side tried to blame the other for causing and keeping the shutdown in place.