In the midst of President Donald Trump’s battle to build the border wall, his presidency oversaw the longest government shutdown of United States history. Though Trump’s stated “goal” was to convince Congress to support a border wall, instead the shutdown turned into a 35 day battle which consisted of holding America hostage.
Starting on December 22, 2018, Trump called for the government shutdown when the White House and Congress failed to agree on a bill spending $5.7 billion for the construction of 234 miles of fencing to be added to the existing security barrier along the U.S. – Mexico border. This is a long-promised element of Trump’s campaign that is the reason many people voted for him.
However, immigration has been a prolonged issue in public policy, and if we have learned anything from these 35 days, Trump is doing more harm than good in trying to push legislation.
The most immediate effect seen with the shutdown is that public workers were either furloughed or went without a paycheck though required to work. Our country runs on the backs of government workers and this shutdown had a major effect on our resources.
During the 35 days, approximately 800,000 workers went without pay. Some worked and will were promised payment when the government reopened, though others such as outside contractors lost out on pay altogether. Nine federal executive branch agencies were affected.
While the shutdown had obvious repercussions on the workers themselves, there are many ways the government shutdown affect American culture overall.
National parks have been trashed. Without workers to clean up after the influx of tourism, National Parks across the country have been destroyed with garbage, human feces, and in some cases trees have been cut down. There was no authority during the shutdown to protect the parks.
The health of the American people was increasingly at risk with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) out of operation. The Agricultural department remained open to inspect meat, poultry, eggs and other food that pose a high risk. However, without the FDA, inspections of seafood, fruits and vegetables were not conducted. This was a huge potential threat to Americans, especially with the recent scare involving romaine lettuce.
Due to the lack of manpower to process applications, many things such as travel visas and Medicare applications were delayed. Over the course of the government shutdown, 400,000 Medicare recipients were delayed, 112,000 Social Security applications were not processed, 80,000 passport applications and visas were denied and over $800 million in mortgage loans were delayed, according to CNN.
One of the most extensive was the delay of immigration cases. Those seeking asylum now may have to wait years for a new hearing. The consequences of these delays are unforeseen, however it is safe to say that these departments now have their hands full.
Public Health and Government Research
Unfortunately, many government labs were emptied, some of which had time sensitive research disrupted. This resulted in chemical factories, power plants, water treatment plants and others going without inspection. This is a major public health issue crucial to the everyday functions of American life which should not be disrupted by the gridlock of the government.
These examples only cover the surface of what a long government shutdown can do to the American people. It harms the safety and functions of the United States. Though Trump has ended the government shutdown, he claims it is a “temporary” end. The battle between Trump and Congress for the border wall will continue, especially with the democrats in power of the House of Representatives. “The Wall” is a financial and political battle that will likely not end within the time of Trump’s administration, but if Trump insists, the American people will suffer the loss.