The Recent Government Shutdown- What Happened?
At midnight on Friday, January 23, the United States government shut down for the first time since 2013. Two days later, on Sunday, the Senate passed a bill to end the shutdown, and President Trump signed it soon after. The bill allows government funding to continue through February 8th, 2018, (which is fast approaching). The Majority Leader will be held accountable if he does not bring immigration legislation to the Senate floor. The Senate Democrats put pressure on the Republicans before the shutdown to try to force a vote on a bill that would prevent the deportation of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients. In short, if these issues are not resolved by February 8th, the government could shut down again.
Democrats were hesitant to sign the bill because it gives Republicans another opportunity to avoid or delay any legislation on immigration. Although liberals made it clear that they would only agree to reopen the government if conservatives agreed to vote on legislation, a promise is different from actually carrying out the action. It will, therefore, be interesting to see if Congress holds a vote before this new deadline, or if we see another shutdown. Albeit short, the two days that the government was closed had an affect on Washington and those normally paid by the government, however.
A provision of the U.S. Constitution allows lawmakers to still get paid their salaries despite the federal government being shutdown due to their lack of ability to reach an agreement, but it does not provide the same for members of the military. Many members of Congress elected not to receive pay during the shutdown or donated their pay to charity. Others proposed legislation to prevent Congressional members from getting paid and to ensure that servicemen and women continue to receive pay and benefits. These actions displayed by both sides of the aisle, while commendable, hint at the need for policy allowing those who protect our country to still receive a paycheck when members of Congress fail to pass a budget to keep the government open. Aside from the military, the shutdown also affected federal contractors.
Federal contractors, or the people and groups who perform duties under a federal department or agency, were also impacted by the government shutdown. Lockheed Martin, for example, expected a “result in costly schedule delays and breaks in production that w[ould] increase overall program costs and interrupt the delivery of critical equipment to [their] customers” (http://www.defenseone.com/business/2018/01/why-shutdown-didnt-much-affect-defense-firms/145390/). Other federal defense contractors refused to confirm or deny any effect the shutdown may have had on their firms, but Lockheed Martin admitted a negative impact across their locations.
Although this government shutdown did not last very long, it could have a longer impact on whether the immigration issue gets resolved.