The United States Congress was unable to fund a bill to keep the government open on Saturday the Jan. 20, leading to a shutdown after a disagreement about the funding of a border wall.The shutdown entails a furloughing of government employees who work in various departments doing various tasks. The military will continue to be funded, as will police and other figures viewed as essential. The budget was not passed in the Senate due to a narrow Republican majority along with strong opposition from Democrats resulting in the failure to get 60 votes needed to pass the bill. In the House of Representatives, the Republicans hold a strong majority which allowed them to pass the bill easily. On Jan. 22, a measure was passed to keep funding the gov’t until Feb. 8, at which time the same situation might ensue.
There was hope that the government shutdown would be avoided again on Feb. 8, after Chuck Schumer, the Senate Minority Leader from New York, met with Donald Trump to negotiate. Schumer enraged some members of the Democratic Party by offering to give Trump funding for his wall, in exchange for extending D.A.C.A. (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals).This system to prevent undocumented people from being deported has been something the Trump administration has wanted to end, along with creating a border wall. There was a failure to come to an agreement, meaning there will likely be another government shutdown in February.
This process of the government shutting down has scared many in other countries with well established systems of funding the government. The U.S. stands alone in its ability to shutdown the government. Currently, the Syrian government, in the middle of a massive civil war, is still able to pass a budget. Before the 1980s, the U.S. government was able to pass spending without federal agencies shutting down, until 1980 when a strict interpretation of the 1884 Anti-Deficiency Act changed things, imposing a shutdown on many agencies’ functions.
The Republican Party is in control of both houses of Congress, and the Presidency, and yet haven’t been able to stop the government from being shut down because their policies are too at odds with Democrats. The government shutdown in 2013, when funding for President Obama’s Affordable Care Act was the object of Republican opposition, but that was when there wasn’t full control of Congress. The Republican commitment to funding a border wall which could cost an undetermined amount of money is something that was supposed to be paid for by Mexico and is supposed to fix illegal entries into the United States, but something is not adding up.
Democrats have long supported funding security along the U.S.-Mexico border but refuse to pay for a wall. The Democratic Party’s stated position on what to do are measures that ”improves border security” with no mention of a physical wall. A wall would not only be inefficient and offensive to those who feel that Trump is weaponizing xenophobia.
Hadrian’s Wall was built by the Romans to stop foreign invasions into Roman territories. This wall was built for the same reason that numerous Chinese emperors built its famed Great Wall, to keep out invaders. The analogy is similar in the U.S.’s case, with many viewing entry from Mexico as an invasion. The problem to this is many people who enter into the United States are flying into the country and going through immigration. Possibly more than 40% of people who are in the United States illegally have done so by overstaying their visas. If the Trump administration wants to save many billions of dollars, it could simply prevent entry of airplanes into the nation it appears.
Photo created by Amanda Schmalzried.