Congress shuts down the government… Again
At midnight on January 20th, 2018 the US government shut its doors for three days.
You maybe asking yourself, is this a joke? How does this happen? Can they do that? What does this mean? Is this how a democracy operates? Will this save or cost Americans? What the hell is really going on???
A government shutdown is the closure of nonessential offices of the government due to the lack of approval on the federal budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Approval is reached if congress agrees on all the spending bills regarding the federal budget. If no agreement is made then a government shutdown will close many federally ran operations, and halt work for federal employees unless they are considered essential. Some organizations will stay open and run on cash reserves, until their money runs out, eventually closing as well. The shut down will remain in effect until a compromise is reached and a budget bill is passed. Sounds fair???? I know when I go to my job, in which I am compensated for, and my peers and I can’t agree on fiscal matters we lock up the shop and leave! Only until we can finally reach an adult comprise, will we reopen and give the services that are entitled to every tax paying American person. The unfortunate reality is these services and decisions are never correct or worth the money, time, and or suffering that is involved. This childish behavior is unbelievable, and yet the show goes on!
Offices that Stay Open: “Essential Services”
- Defense, National safety, and security
- Border Protection and Immigration
- Air trafic control
- Transportation Security Administration
- Justice Department
- Postal Service
Offices that Close Down: “Non-Essential Services”
- Department of Education
- Department of Commerce
- Department of Energy
- Environmental Protection Agency
- Food and Drug Administration
- Health and Human Services
- Housing and Urban Development
- Department of Interior: National Parks
- Internal Revenue Services
- Department of Labor
- National Institute of Health
Some Unsettling Facts
- Overall cost and last impact on the economy may vary, yet there have been shutdowns where an estimated $20 billion was lost.
- During the last shutdown, 850,000 executive branch employees were furloughed.
- Furloughs are mandatory time off with no pay. Except when it comes to our federally employed personnel, of course.
- Congress included a provision in its October 2013 spending bill that reopened the government and authorized that furloughed employees receive “their regular standard rate of compensation for the period of such lapse in appropriations, as soon as practicable.” So essentially the 850,000 federal employees in 2013 who were forced to stay home “without pay” received retroactive pay for the 16 days they were not at work. Well done, America! Not only are these federal workers doing a poor job and still getting paid, but congress has found another way to add insult to injury… by paying them to stay home!
But Why? What can the House and Senate not agree on?
- Democrats want to extend spending to protect immigrants eligible for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. If there is no compromise, president Trump’s Immigration plan will end the program in February. On January 22nd, the Senate approved a continuing resolution expiring at midnight February 8th. The Senate bill was approved by the House and signed by President Trump. To get to the point to agree to disagree, republicans promised to work with the democrats on the DACA legislation. This way, they can try and solve the major issue at hand, our defense budget.
- The last disputed area of the fiscal budget of 2018 is over an increase in defenses or non-defense spending. Republicans want the base budget for defense to go from $549 billion to $700 billion. While Democrats want a dollar for dollar increase to non-defense discretionary spending. Democrats always want aid for Puerto Rico and increased spending on the opioid epidemic.
The United States Congress is divided into the House of Representatives and the Senate. Which is then divided by republicans whom are currently the majority and democrats whom are the minority, all lead by one man who happens to be none other than republican President Donald Trump. This is all made possible by our governmental system called Democracy – “A government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections.” All driven by power, motivated by the “all mighty dollar” and controlled with fear. Time for a Change
“If national pride is ever justifiable or excusable it is when it springs, from not power and riches, grandeur or glory, but from conviction of national innocence, information, and benevolence.”
I truly believe we as Americans have lost our way and are in need of a complete overhaul. I really don’t think what we are doing is working and it is time for a change. I believe we the people should let our voices be heard, and it is time for our “public servants” to start doing what is in the best interest of our nation, not themselves. Time did an article comparing the movie Idiocracy and our current political circus, and the similarities are shocking. So before you decide, ask yourself, what does one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty, and justice for all mean to you? And how far are you willing to go to get this back?
For more on government shutdowns here are the original articles in their entirety…
Federal News Radio, Time, and for better understanding of some of these definitions take a look at Investopedia