Federal government reopens

Emma Hughes

Gila River Indian News


After 35 days, the federal government has temporarily reopened after undergoing its third shutdown for 2018 which extended into 2019; making it the longest government shutdown in history.


The partial shutdown began on Dec. 22 when federal officials were unable to come to an agreement on the approval of a budget that would include $5.3 billion in funding for Homeland Security for the construction of a barrier wall along the US-Mexico border, which has long been promised and demanded by President Donald Trump.


The shutdown affected 800,000 federal employees. Of those, 350,000 employees were furloughed and in some cases, required to work without pay. Since the shutdown, those 800,000 workers have missed two paychecks.


 Although many federal agencies were impacted, which include some federal law enforcement, Department of Commerce, NASA, National Parks and Forest Services, and HUD, among dozens of other smaller agencies.


Those that resumed work during the partial shutdown included: Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, the US Postal Service, Veterans Hospitals and VA benefit programs, Food Stamps, the Military and Homeland Security, all of which were deemed critical.


On Jan. 25 it was announced by Trump that a deal was reached to end the shutdown and temporarily reopen. Trump first said he would not agree to any deal unless it included the funding for the border wall but did not receive that with the bill that ended the shutdown.


If they do not reach an agreement on funding for the border wall, the government will experience another shutdown on Feb 15. Trump also stated the federal employees will receive their back pay “very quickly or as soon as possible.”


Tribes across the nation were beginning to feel the impact as many services, including education, healthcare and even law enforcement programs depend on federal resources. Although some services are funded through federal contract rather than direct services, the greater concerns are with long-term affects tribes might be impacted by due to the overall cost of the shutdown. 


The partial shutdown has cost the U.S. economy $11 billion, according the Congressional Budget Office. 


“As everyone knows, I have a very powerful alternative but I didn’t want to use it at this time. Hopefully it will be unnecessary” said Trump, which is referring to declaring a state of emergency in order to have the border wall built.