Longest government shutdown in history ends as Trump reaches temporary deal


Nicole Chen

The San Francisco City Hall lit up in the colors of the American flag. Government workers across multiple federal agencies are without pay due to a government shutdown that has lasted 22 days.

by Kathy Fang and Arushi Saxena

Thirty-five days into the longest government shutdown in history, President Donald Trump reached a deal to reopen the federal government until Feb. 15. The deal came amidst tensions between Republicans and Democrats over funding for Trump’s proposed southwest border wall, which would require billions of dollars for construction and materials.

The bill, signed on the day when over 800,000 furloughed federal workers were anticipating another empty paycheck, came with an announcement from Trump which promised pay “very quickly or as soon as possible.” In signing a bill to guarantee back pay for affected workers, he guaranteed the same for future shutdowns. According to a new analysis from S&P Global Ratings, lost productivity and weakened economic activity cost the U.S. economy around $6 billion.

Following Trump’s surprise backdown from his demand for $5.7 billion for his border wall, Congress passed seven stopgap spending bills to assist in restarting and funding government agencies in the next three weeks. Airports and other major federal agencies experienced slowdowns and inefficiency, with agencies such as Homeland Security, Department of the Interior, and Department of Transportation were shut down. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) stopped many of its services as well, but tax refunds were still issued.

Though Trump did not win funding for his wall with ending the shutdown, he has indicated that if Republicans and Democrats don’t reach an agreement by Feb. 15, it would be “off to the races,” with him possible declaring a national emergency to override Congress. However, with partisan tensions and uncertainty over the success of a 2020 presidential run, it is uncertain which further steps Trump will take.

Additionally, it is unclear when the President’s State of the Union will be held. Slated to be held on Jan. 29 prior to Trump’s spat with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in which she disinvited him from speaking to the U.S. House of Representatives, a date for the address is currently not set.

This story was updated on January 26.

The partial government shutdown has surpassed the record for the longest shutdown in American history, extending into its twenty-second day as the fight over government spending between the president and Congress continues.

According to a press release issued by the House Committee on Appropriations, more than 800,000 federal workers are without pay, missing their first paycheck yesterday, while President Donald Trump refuses to sign any congressional spending bill that does not include funding for a wall on the Mexican border as well as other border security measures.

The federal agencies that are affected include, among many others, the Departments of Transportation, Agriculture, Housing and Urban Development and Justice as well as some federal law enforcement branches, the Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Protection, some of whose employees are called to work without pay. National parks across the nation have also been closed because funding for park service has also been cut as a part of the shutdown.

In a primetime address broadcast across multiple major news channels last Tuesday night, Trump declared a “humanitarian crisis” on the Southern border, claiming that “illegal immigrants” and drugs flowing across the Mexican border are threats to American lives that merit additional funding for border security, including $5.7 billion dollars for a steel barrier.

Congressional Democrats, namely House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, have denounced Trump’s proposed spending plan. Though multiple bipartisan spending bills have been passed in both houses of Congress only to face opposition from Trump, including an Interior-Environment Appropriations Bill passed yesterday, Trump has blamed congressional Democrats in particular for the government shutdown because of their refusal to fund his border security measures, namely the border wall.

This is a developing story. Check back on Harker Aquila for further updates.