There has been a lot of talk in the news and on social media about the government shutdown and funding for “the wall” on the border between the United States and Mexico. Although most of us are aware that there is a shutdown, the process that leads to a government shutdown may not be clear to everyone. Each year the president proposes to Congress the budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Congress must then agree on the budget and either vote to pass or fail the budget. This year, President Donald Trump alloted 5.8 billion dollars of the proposed budget to pay for a wall on the southern border of the United States, this being something that he previously campaigned upon. Congress, however, cannot agree upon Trump’s budget plan and voted not to pass it. Congress and the President cannot agree on a budget, thus, forcing the government into a shutdown.
The government will not be able to reopen until a budget is passed. Some ramifications of the shutdown is that government workers will not get paid until after the government reopens. This has raised concerns about essential workers not going to work while they remain unpaid, such as TSA workers and air traffic controllers. Furthermore, SNAP (also known as food stamps) will expire due to the shutdown. Thankfully, programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid will continue.
Due to the fact that the US is extremely politically polarized at the moment, there are of course two sides to the issue. In many ways, the shutdown and border wall issues are not about the physical wall, but more so a power struggle between the Republican president and the Democrat controlled House of Representatives. Trump has not previously had to work with a Congress controlled by any other party,and as of now both sides are unwilling to compromise. A conservative argument on the matter is the House of Representatives is composed of representatives based on population, and that this power struggle is actually between the most populous areas of the United States and the rest of the country. A similar question is asked when there were arguments about the electoral college: should the states with the largest cities in the US control the policies in the rest of the country?
Trump’s justification for the wall is that it will decrease criminal activity and the amount of illegal drugs entering the country from the southern border. However, some argue that the wall will not halt the flow of drugs, as drugs come by plane and by submarines operated by the cartel and its associates. Many also argue that the wall would cause environmental damage and be a potential catalyst for extinction for several endangered species. People who argue this take the more liberal argument in the debate.
An end to this government shutdown does not seem near; both party’s leaders are in staunch opposition to each other on the matter. Nancy Pelosi (the Democrat Majority House Leader) and Chuck Schumer (the Democratic Senate Minority Leader) have both categorically refused to support any budget with funding for the wall. Meanwhile, Trump still has unrelenting support for the border wall. He has Tweeted to the American people that there is a “humanitarian crisis” on the southern border, and that a portion of illegal immigrants coming from Latin America are committing sex crimes. He even went as far as to threaten to declare a national emergency at the southern border.
Trump, as he has since the beginning of the shutdown, has been pressuring Democrat leaders to accept his budget. He has Tweeted that “We will be out for a long time unless the Democrats come back from their “vacations” and get back to work.” and that “Democrats could solve the Shutdown in 15 minutes! Call your Democratic Senator or Congresswoman/man. Tell them to get it done! Humanitarian Crisis.” But Pelosi and Schumer have held their ground, and have not agreed to any of Trump's suggestions. Thus the conflict continues...
Irregardless of our positions on the debate, we can all agree that this matter should conclude as quickly as possible so that the US may return to normal affairs.