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Government Shutdown: Is it Over?

The 35-day government shutdown, the longest shutdown in US history, ended on Jan. 25 after President Trump signed a resolution to reopen the federal government until Feb. 15.  

The shutdown — which dragged on amidst ongoing and contentious negotiations as President Trump demanded $5 billion to fund the U.S.-Mexico border wall he promised during his 2016 campaign — impacted roughly 800,000 federal workers.

Funding expired Dec. 21 for nine departments of the federal government, including the departments of State, Justice, Transportation and Homeland Security, all of which obtain its funding from annual budget appropriations decided by Congress.

In the absence of funding for these agencies, there’s a division between employees who are “excepted” and have to work without immediate pay, and employees who are “non-excepted” and are put on unpaid furlough.

Image courtesy of PBS

Employees of jobs concerning safety, protection or other works deemed necessary to continue by agencies are considered “excepted” and go to work as usual during a shutdown.

More than half of the 800,000 federal employees affected were able to work, according to the Washington Post. Under a bill signed by President Trump, back pay was assured to those in unpaid statuses.

As for other effects — contractors, unlike those working directly for the government, are unable to get back pay even after the government opens. As a result, many have considered alternative jobs for income and are demanding pay.

A bill introduced by Sen. Tina Smith (D-MN) would change that. The legislation would require federal agencies to cooperate with contracting companies to provide back pay for employees.

Roughly 36,000 federal prison workers, those considered “excepted” workers, worked without pay and in at least one prison, the number of assaults against officers increased since the shutdown.

In the Justice Department, employees working on criminal investigations also worked without pay. Federal civil cases also were delayed.

Airports and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) grappled with staffing shortages during the shutdown, with some having to close terminals and operate with major checkpoints closed.  

Although 75 percent of the government remained funded during the shutdown, the impact of the other 25 percent that didn’t was shared in all 50 states – most notably in Alaska, Montana, Wyoming, New Mexico, South Dakota, West Virginia and Idaho, per an analysis.

A report released by the Congressional Budget Office found that the shutdown impacted U.S. economic growth, with a loss of $11 billion in GDP. While $8 billion will be recovered, the CBO report finds that $3 billion are permanently lost.

As the February deadline looms, Trump warned in his speech in the Rose Garden that Republicans and Democrats will have to reach an agreement on funding for the wall. If the gridlock ensues, he threatened to declare a national emergency and bypass Congress.

 

 

By Carolina Espinal


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0 0 323 11 February, 2019 Featured, News, Uncategorized February 11, 2019

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