Government Opens, Uncertainty Remains

Fiona Schaeffer, Staff Writer

The longest government shutdown in US history came to an end on Friday, January 25th, as President Trump announced that he would agree to sign a bill to temporarily open the federal government for three weeks while the White House and Congressional leaders continue to work to find a compromise on funding for border security.


This announcement came just a day after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell brought two different bills to the floor of the Senate. Each of the bills would have opened the government, but neither received the necessary sixty votes it needed to pass. One of those bills was backed by President Trump, and it called for 5.7 billion dollars for a border wall in exchange for temporary protection for immigrants with DACA and TPS statuses. Democrats called this deal a non-starter, objecting to temporary relief in exchange for a permanent infrastructure decision. Further, some members of the Democratic Caucus argued that the President’s offer was not a true compromise, as he was the one who repealed DACA and TPS protections in the first place. The other bill, which was legislation passed by the Democratic-controlled House, moved to reopen the government without funding for a wall, which Republican leadership in the Senate and White House did not support.


This legislation endorsed by Trump on Friday is the same measure which the Senate passed 100-0 back in December to fund the government. The President originally rejected this bill because it did not include the 5.7 billion dollars for border wall funding along the southern border. While the temporary bill that will reopen the government contains no new funding, Trump indicated that if Congressional leaders have not come to a solution about border security by February 15th– when this legislation expires– he will allow the government to close again, and perhaps declare a state of emergency at the border.


This move to reopen the government comes as the impact of the month-long shutdown became increasingly widespread. 800,000 Americans were furloughed or working without pay, which put a strain on thousands of US households. TSA agents have spent the last thirty-five days working without pay, and as the shutdown progressed, more employees called into work which delayed travel times all across the country. Friday morning, before the announcement to reopen the government was made, 15,000 IRS employees did not show up to work, protesting the lack of pay for their work. Without proper funding to the IRS, tax returns are expected to be delayed. Further, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi canceled the annual state of the union, postponing it to a later time after the government was reopened, as protections such as the Secret Service, were working without pay. As of now, the State of the Union is expected to take place when the government reopens, but Speaker Pelosi has not announced when it will take place. In his Rose Garden Address, the President promised the federal workers who have either been furloughed or worked without pay would receive back pay for pay periods they missed due to the shutdown.


While the government is opening, the solution is only for the short term, as the government could be facing the same issues again in three weeks if no further agreement has been reached.