Due to disagreements between the Democrat and Republican parties, the United States of America is currently experiencing the longest government shutdown in the country’s history.

Currently, this is the second government shutdown under President Trump. The first happened in January 2018 and lasted for 3 days. At the end of 2018, the current shutdown began. When Trump sought $5.7 billion for his proposed wall, at that point the Democrats objected to the effectiveness and cost of the wall. As a proposed spending bill that would have helped pay for the wall failed to pass, the government shutdown started in December since the Democrats could block any further spending bills when they took control of the House in January.  

A government shutdown results in the furlough of federal employees involved with several agencies and services deemed “nonessential.” This can result in many people going without pay for quite a while. A government shutdown occurs when Congress fails to pass certain bills and resolutions that would fund federal government services, or when the President refuses to sign the bills and resolutions as is the case during the current shutdown.

According to CNN, 380,000 employees have been furloughed, and 420,000 are working without pay. The Washington Post also reports that some employees have called in sick or attempted to find other paid work during the shutdown. The New York Times has reported that TSA agents have failed to show up for work due to their lack of pay. SNAP, more commonly known as food stamps, has also seen reductions in funding meaning that people could have trouble getting sufficient food in the future.

In order for the shutdown to end, President Trump could either prolong the shutdown in order to force Democrats to support funding for the wall which will risk damage to the economy and pressure to the Republican party, or Trump can initiate a national emergency. While it seems the President has chosen the former solution, if Trump does invoke a national emergency, he could use his executive powers to gain funding for the wall. According to the Congressional Research Service, the President has “extraordinary authority in time of national emergency.” The President can shut down or take control of the internet, or even deploy troops within our borders.

National emergencies are nothing new though, as 42 national emergencies have been declared between 1976 and 2007, according to the Congressional Research Service. Many remain active decades later. According to CNN, George W. Bush declared 13 emergencies, and Obama 12, many of which are still active today. Some of the emergencies still active are blocking of people involved with malicious cyber-ware activities and continuing certain restrictions with regard to North Korea and its officials.

While President Trump may start a national emergency in order to gain his wall, it won’t mean he has unlimited power. He also risks starting a legal battle with the Democrats if he uses his powers, so a national emergency may not be as likely.

If you or a loved one is affected by the shutdown, UCAN food bank in Roseburg can provide emergency food for those impacted.