What Is A Government Shutdown?

By: Jett Millican

The United States of America is in the middle of the longest government shutdown in history, but what does that even mean? How did all this come to be? What does this mean for the millions of Government workers in America, and for Tulsans? I sat down with Mr. Corey Hubble, a government and world history teacher here at Jenks, to try and understand more about this latest government closure.

Every year the US Congress must create a bill that funds government functions for a year. This voting is actually supposed to occur around September every year, but usually the Legislation votes to have a “continuum” which extends voting to December or January, and gives more time for the bill to be made and everyone to get their say in on the matter.

“Every year in September it’s called “The September Showdown” and that’s when [US Congress] starts thinking about ‘What’s going to pass?’, ‘Is there going to be a shutdown?’” says Hubble. “During the continuum is when they figure out, ‘Alright let’s cut a deal, let’s make a compromise.’”

The passing of the bill gets tricky when the political parties of congress try to “sneak” ideas of how they think government money should be spent. This particular shutdown is over the proposed southern border wall.

“This one’s different because both sides, Democrats and Republicans are using it as a rallying point to win political issues. That’s usually what shutdowns are about, they’re about the idea that one side’s not going to budge because they want their issue to get passed,” says Hubble. This one is especially contentious because of the polarization of the congress and the President.”

According to Hubble this shutdown is almost a game of political strategy. President Trump has doubled down on his campaign promise to build a border wall, but he hasn’t received that funding because the democrats have won a majority of the House of Representatives in the midterm elections.

“The Democrats know that if [President Trump] doesn’t get the funding for the wall, going into the 2020 elections for Trump, his opponent will be able to say, ‘Well where’s the wall?’ says Hubble. “So both sides are digging in their heels because this is the main issue they think they can win big political points on.”

There have been upwards of 20 government shutdowns in the history of America, and  this is currently the third closure since President Donald Trump has been in office.

“[Government shutdowns are] more common than you think, you don’t hear about them as much as you do this one because usually they work themselves out pretty quickly,” says Hubble. “This one is unique in the political stakes that are up for grabs.”

So if Government shutdowns are really more common than you think, are they really as scary and ominous as they sound?

The answer is not so simply: yes and no. Crucial Government functions, such as mail delivery and law enforcement are still up and running, making this Government closure a “partial shutdown”.

It appears this shutdown really doesn’t look like it will be solved anytime soon. Hubble attributes this to the personality of President Trump, and the enthusiasm of Democrats coming off of winning the majority of the seats in the house in the midterm elections back in November.

“They both think that if this is something they can win; it’s going to have huge ramifications for later,” says Hubble.

According to Hubble most times, the issues that cause government shutdowns aren’t as “cut and dry” as this one, but here we can see the issue being debated; the proposed border wall, and the line in the sand that clearly separates the two main opinions on it.

“Look at both sides of the issue…don’t just look at things that agree with you,” says Hubble. “Now you might not think that this is a big deal, or might not even affect you, but if you care about who the president is, or what the election is going to look like in a few years, this is going to have a serious impact on that.”

As Hubble said, this issue might not affect you now, but it is affecting the 800,000 government employees working without pay, and it will have an affect on upcoming political elections and decisions.

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