Federal Government Shuts Down on One-Year Anniversary of Trump Presidency


At midnight in Washington D.C. as the date became Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018, one year after the inauguration of Donald Trump, the federal government officially shut down as the Senate was unable to reach 60 votes to pass a Republican-backed temporary spending bill that had already been passed in the House of Representatives by Republicans. The final 50-49 votes saw Democrats Doug Jones(AL), Joe Donnelley(IN), Joe Manchin(WV), Heidi Heitkamp(ND), and Clair McCaskill(MO) vote for the bill with Republicans. Meanwhile, Republicans Jeff Flake(AZ), Mike Lee(UT), Rand Paul(KY), and Lindsey Graham(SC) voted with Democrats against the bill.

During a government shutdown the entire federal government doesn’t actually shut down.  Essential services from the federal government that include disaster assistance, criminal investigations, air traffic control and security of federal places will continue though will likely be understaffed. What won’t continue, at least for long, is access to a number of places run by the federal government through the National Parks Service and the Smithsonian Institute. The Smithsonian has said they will continue through the weekend but will close on Monday if the shutdown continues. The National Parks Service has said they will remain as open as possible but services requiring staff, such as campgrounds, will not be available.

During the shutdown, many civilian employees of the federal government will be furloughed such as those working in the Department of Education or the Department of Health and Human Resources. As many functions of the Department of Education would cease with the shutdown any pending FAFSA applications would be put on hold.

Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice will continue to work. As well, the Environmental Protection Agency has enough resources to able to continue work until Jan 26. The U.S. Post Office will continue to operate as it has its own source of revenue and Veteran Affairs has had funding preapproved after concerns from the last shutdown in 2013. Members of the Military and civilian employees of the Department of Defense will be expected to continue their work without pay.

In Congress, Republicans and Democrats blamed each other for the shutdown. Republicans claimed that Democrats were putting immigrants over American children in voting against the spending bill, that included reauthorization of funds for the Children’s Health Insurance Program CHIP, as the bill did not provide a legislative solution for the Trump administration’s end to the DACA program.

Democrats countered that Republicans were using the 9 million children that use CHIP as hostages in order to pass the spending bill. CHIP funding expired at the end of last September while Republicans tried to force a vote to repeal Obamacare with funding being able to be approved at any time since then. Democrats, including Senator Kamala Harris of California, were vocal that a spending bill should include a legislative solution for DACA and funding for the CHIP.

On the Senate floor after the vote, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said the shutdown was due to a lack of consensus in negotiations from Republicans. Schumer said he had even offered to approve funding for Trump’s border wall but that Trump had rejected the deal. “I reluctantly put the border wall on the table for discussion, even that was not enough to entice the president to finish the deal,” Schumer said.