Government Shutdown: Who Was Responsible?


Yeileny Lopez

As the government shutdown is still occurring, many wonder who is responsible for it.

Chase Bagnall-Koger, Staff Writer

Since the results of the 2016 election and the induction of President Trump, both the presidency and Congress are controlled by Republican Party majority. Between the both of them, they are trying to accomplish goals on the Republican agenda, as well as the campaign promises made by President Trump. However, these plans were forced to a three-day close last week when the government was officially shutdown for three days from the morning of Jan. 20 to the evening of Jan. 22. When government shutdowns happen, non-essential government employees are relieved of their work duties for an undefined amount of time. About half of government workers, mostly in the defense department, continue going to work, but government facilities such as national parks and government-owned museums do not operate.

“Government shutdowns affect our country a lot. Everything that has to do with government agencies is delayed [when the government shuts down]. For example, if you want to travel somewhere, your flight will most likely be delayed because airports and trains depend on federal spending subsides. The longer the shutdown lasts, the worse it gets,” freshman Serena Bruce said.

These shutdowns occur when government productivity comes to a standstill. For example, the most recent government shutdown that occurred from Jan. 20-22 was caused by the Senate’s inability to come to an agreement on two major issues: the 2018 national budget and immigration laws. Though this shutdown indicates a failure of government as a whole regardless of party lines, the majority party in the Senate is more responsible for the standstill because they were aware that they would not get enough votes to pass the immigration reforms or the suggested budget, but have yet to suggest any compromises. Republicans have motioned to end the DACA immigration policy and insist on a border wall, which would cost taxpayers nearly $70 billion to build and $150 million a year to maintain. Many feel that this money would be better spent in other areas, such as affordable healthcare or education. They also have proposed to increase spending on defense without increasing funds for any other area. These actions are unrealistic and without compromises are a large part of the reason the government shut down.

DACA is a policy established by President Obama in 2012 which allows so called ‘DREAMers’, illegal immigrants who entered the country as minors, to reside in the United Sates and apply for a work permit. It has allowed tens of thousands of people to start new lives in the United States without fear of deportation. A major disagreement between Democrats and Republicans has been the question of reversing the DACA policy. Republicans, especially President Trump, have spoken out against the policy and suggested its abolition in the immigration reforms they have planned. However, besides the basic humanitarian appeal of allowing children to have a better chance at success, the DACA policy has also been proven to promote economic growth as many DACA recipients are becoming educated and joining the workforce. Reversing this policy as suggested by Republicans would cause both damage to our nation and to immigrants and their families. This along with the infamous ‘border wall’ from President Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign are suggestions related to immigration reform, making them unlikely to receive and support from Democratic senators and therefore unlikely to pass. However, there have been no alternative suggestions offered, no compromises suggested, and no alterations to the original bill. This creates a standstill and ignores the fact that making compromises is that way Congress is supposed to function.

“I feel like it is more on the majority party. Since all of Congress is controlled by a majority of Republicans, I think that though it is congress as a whole’s fault that they have shut down the government and it is on everyone to ensure that the government keeps functioning. The majority party has more power and therefore are more at fault,” sophomore Alexander Sutton said.

Another major issue that has contributed to the government shutdown is what the national budget should be and which specific areas should those resources go to. Republicans aim to increase the amount of money which goes to national defense from $549 billion to $700 billion, while keeping the money allotted to other issues constant. Democrats have agreed to increasing funds for national defense, but have suggested the compromise of also increasing funding slightly in other areas, such as the nation’s opioid epidemic or educational system. This suggestion was not looked upon favorably by Republicans, and no other proposals were made. Without a clear-cut national budget, it is hard for the government to make any monetary decisions or function properly; thus contributing to the three-day government shutdown. The responsibility falls on the Republicans, the majority party in the Senate, as they hold the most votes. In order to get things done their way, all they have to do is make proposals that are reasonable enough for a few Democrats to vote for. Republican refusal to compromise is a major cause of the shutdown, especially in terms of the budget.

Some people believe that the blame for the government shutdown should actually be placed on the Democrats because they were the ones who technically blocked these two bills from passing. Democrats voted against both the defense budget increase and the proposed immigration reform, which delays actual decisions form being made. They also disagree with many Republican healthcare ideals, which indicates the possibility of similar standoffs or government shutdowns in the future.

However, the proposal to end DACA is one which will have many negative effects without any proof of potential positive ones, so the Democrats are justified to stand their ground on this matter. Additionally, increasing the amount of money allowed to the military without increasing the overall budget would mean cutting funding for other aspects of the nation, specifically a 24% reduction to the Environmental Protection Agency. The United States already spends more than any nation in the world on military, while the EPA has a significantly lower budget than many other developed nations, such as China.  The policies being put forth by the Republicans are not necessarily what is best for the nation, and Democrats cannot be expected to blindly agree with these policies.

In conclusion, the recent government shutdown indicates the failure of a government as a whole, but more blame should fall on the shoulders of the Republican party. As the majority party, they have a responsibility to make reasonable suggestions and propose compromises, both in the subjects of immigration reform and outlining the national budget. Hopefully, this will be the last government shutdown of 2018, and the two parties can find a way to work together in congress to make decisions that will benefit the United states.

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