Too afraid to ask: What’s the lowdown on the government shutdown?

    They say all’s fair in love and war, but what happens when the U.S. government is at war with itself, and a shutdown ensues? After three days of chaos, the shutdown that gripped the nation has come to a close.

    President Trump ended the government shutdown on Jan. 22 after signing a resolution to end the shutdown and fund the government until Feb. 8.

    What went down?

    The shutdown, which began last Friday at midnight, continued after Senate Democrats refused to vote for a last-minute government funding bill, citing a lack of agreement over recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The House and Senate passed a resolution after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer agreed to end the shutdown after McConnell promised to introduce immigration legislation if no progress on DACA could be made.

    What made this shutdown different from previous government shutdowns?

    Although Americans have experienced other shutdowns, most notably under President Obama in 2013, this shutdown marked the first time the government has been unable to fund itself with both chambers of Congress and the Presidency under one party.

    How did the shutdown affect people’s jobs?

    All government actors in “essential” jobs were allowed to work throughout the shutdown, but those in non-essential occupations were put on furlough leave. The definition of essential and non-essential changes with each shutdown; the Office of Management and Budget asks federal agency heads to determine which jobs in their agencies are essential and which are not. Typically, however, essential services are those that are needed to keep the economy afloat and to enforce the law. During the 2013 shutdown, around 40 percent of non-essential employees were federal nonmilitary employees, meaning millions of Americans were left without pay. This year, 900,000 employees were put on furlough.

    What were the effects of the shutdown?

    The government shutdown was not a complete shutdown of all government activities; in reality, very few government functions were put on hold this past weekend. Most notably, many monuments and museums were shut down, although certain cities were able to pick up the funding for major landmarks. Unlike the last shutdown, during which National Parks were gated away from visitors, the Department of the Interior kept most parks open, although Park Rangers were placed on leave. Despite the shutdown, crucial services remained during the shutdown. USPS still delivered mail, Americans received their Social Security checks and airports ran on schedule., Unfortunately, agencies that pay out small business loans, passport offices, the Library of Congress, military intelligence operations and weapons and equipment maintenance were put on hold.

    What are some misconceptions related to the shutdown?

    President Trump decried the shutdown as an example of Democrats shutting down the military, even as all active service members served over the weekend, but without pay.

    Overseas troops, such as those conducting missions in Afghanistan, were also exempt from major shutdown ramifications.

    What was the impact of the shutdown?

    Since the government shutdown only lasted for a weekend, many Americans avoided the major economic and government-related impacts of a prolonged shutdown. Those Americans who worked in “nonessential” government jobs lost the money they could have gained over the weekend, and Americans lost the ability to engage in “nonessential” services. Other sectors, such as the military, continued with their regularly-scheduled programs, but without pay.


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