In the U.S., a government shutdown happens when federal programs that are non-essential yet discretionary get closed (Amadeo). It occurs when either the Congress does not pass, or the President does not sign the necessary appropriations. Appropriations are the legislations that fund the government agencies as well as operations. The American 2018 shutdown started around midnight of 20th January 2018. The previous day, a bill had failed to go through the Senate since most of the Democrats voted “no” (The New York Times). Senate Democrats maintained that immigration was one issue that had to be captured in the budget, particularly funding of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). They wanted a bill to safeguard the immigrants who are eligible for DACA. However, the Republicans declined to address the issue of DACA program in the budget stating that the deadline for the program as well as the immigration was in mid-March (Shaw, Pappas and Richardson). Failure of the Senate to come up with a permanent solution meant that the President’s immigration plan was bound to come to an end in February. A stop-gap that would finance the government for a period of one month passed the House of Representatives making one of the Republican Senators Mitch McConnell to propose a stop-gap of twenty-one days (Ferrechio). The government remained shut down until 23rd January 2018 (Barrett, Bash and Diaz).
The shutdown of the U.S. government was big news and made international headlines considering that the U.S. economy is among biggest economies in the world and is the most powerful nation. The shutdown might appear like there is something that is pretty wrong with the American political system. It opened the stage for blame game on who was responsible for the shutdown. It is surprising that President Trump’s government suffered a shutdown when his party has a majority in the two Congress houses. That may also mean that the leaders are democratic enough and as such, they did not just vote along the party lines. If they did so, then, there would be no government shutdown.
I do not think that the 2018 U.S government shutdown was a big issue since there was a significant impact on the country’s economy and livelihoods. Most of the U.S. federal departments are financed through the discretionary budget (Amadeo). However, when a government shutdown occurs, the departments and agencies that offer the essential services such as defense and national security are not shut down. There would be a much greater impact if government shutdown meant that essential services such as national security were closed. Most of the government agencies are structured in such a way that they can continue to function even when there is no funding bill (Amadeo).
It is difficult to evaluate how much exactly the government and the economy loses when there is a government shutdown. However, it is clear that if the shutdown continued for a more extended period, then it would have affected the economy in the long run. People who rely on the suspended services would begin feeling the pinch of the shutdown since more and more services would have closed after exhausting their saved-up funds. In the long run, the shutdown would have adversely affected the economy. The government’s spending makes part of the gross domestic product, and it contributes a very significant amount of the country’s economic output. Therefore, apart from disrupting government services, shutdowns lead to higher costs to the government that is occasioned by the loss of labor.
The shutdown occurred, and before one goes into why the leaders voted as they did, it is important to question why it is funding for the immigration reforms that brought the shutdown. Immigration reforms remain one of the critical issues in the President Trump’s administration. The shutdown was a sign that the U.S. needs to work on the immigration issue and find a permanent solution since the lack of a solution for DACA primarily brought the shutdown. What America needs is sanity and clear thinking on its immigration system; otherwise, the issue of the immigration reforms will always haunt the country and sometimes cost the country’s as it happened with the 2018 government shutdown.
In conclusion, the 2018 U.S. government shutdown is not the first, and undoubtedly it will not be the last one. It is undeniable that the shutdown affected the country’s economy in one way or the other. Both Congress houses need to explore all the possible avenues that may prevent the country from reaching a point that the government is shut down. The main reason that led to the shutdown was a failure to find a solution to the funding of the DACA program yet the effects of the shutdown affected many Americans, most of whom have very little or nothing to do with the program. Therefore, in future, it is important to have solutions that prevent the country from reaching the point of undergoing a government shutdown since even though the shutdown ended, some of its effects are irreversible.
Amadeo, Kimberly. What Is a Government Shutdown? 2018 and 2013 Examples. 23 January 2018. Web. 4 February 2018.
Barrett, Ted, Dana Bash and Daniella Diaz. Trump signs bill ending shutdown, official says. 23 January 2018. Web. 4 February 2018.
Ferrechio, Susan. Democrats under pressure to block spending bill over Dreamers. 16 January 2018. Web. 4 February 2018.
Shaw, Adam, Alex Pappas and Matt Richardson. Government braces for shutdown as Senate fails to meet deadline for spending deal. 20 January 2018. Web. 4 February 2018.
The New York Times. Government Shuts Down as Bill to Extend Funding Is Blocked; Senate Adjourns for the Night. 18 January 2018. Web. 4 February 2018.