A couple of weeks ago, the Trump administration reached a deal with the Democratic House of Representatives to end the recent government shutdown, the longest in American history, ending the turmoil of many government workers. Exactly how did this start? What led up to this? What is going on?
What is a Government Shutdown?
In order for the government to pay their employees (e.g. police, postal service, park service, etc.), they need to decide how much they are going to pay them. This is decided in a budget, which has to be passed, just like any other law, through Congress. However, this type of law will always have an expiration date on them. The new law will state that these people will be paid 'this' much for 'that' amount of time. This means that Congress has to agree on a new budget before the old one becomes invalid. If they cannot do that, government workers stop getting paid, they stop doing their job, and the government is effectively shut down.
Why did the Government Shutdown happen this time?
One other hurdle that a law has to get through to pass is being signed by the President. Congress may vote for it, but if the President says ‘no’ then it simply is not passed (there is a way to get past the President with a second vote with a two-thirds majority, but in the current political climate a bi-partisan agreement on something so fundamental may be unlikely). This means that if the President does not like anything about the new budget, he can block it. Which is exactly what he did.
What did President Trump not like about the budget?
Simple answer: his wall. He wanted money for his goddamn wall.
Why won’t Congress agree to his wall?
After the Midterm Elections, the Democratic Party took the House of Representatives, one branch of Congress, from the Republicans, the party of Donald Trump. It is the Democrats stance that the wall, as a means of deterring unwanted immigration, would be completely useless. They cited statistics that said that a greater number of immigrants enter the country by ways of air planes and expired visas rather than aimlessly wandering through the desert.
How was an agreement reached?
Simply put, President Trump completely caved. In what is now being referred to as ‘the Trump Shutdown’, the longest government shutdown in American history, his approval rating plummeted. With millions of people not getting paid, images of crowds at food banks and homeless shelters flooded the media, something even President Trump could not simply ignore. And so he caved… for a month at least. That is the deadline for THIS budget.
What will happen after THIS budget runs out?
Probably the same 'this' again. President Trump has reportedly said that, while he is signing this agreement for the sake of the government workers, the next budget must have money dedicated to the wall and he will not accept anything else. He has even stated that a second shutdown is not off the table! Please note he said that already, before he caved on this stalemate.
Why did he let it get so bad?
Nobody can say for sure. Although, suggestions have been circulating that the President might personally benefit from Government Departments not operating, specifically the FBI who are still investigating the President’s involvement with Russia. This turned out to be untrue, as a campaign advisor and Trump ally, Roger Stone, was arrested by the FBI on multiple accounts of lying and witness tampering about links with Russia and WikiLeaks. You would have to be a pretty awful person for FBI agents to be willing to go on an arrest operation without being paid.
It is anyone’s guess, really. It is likely that the President will incite another shutdown, although maybe investigations and Democratic lobbying will be his downfall beforehand. Who knows?