Eight hundred thousand workers were furloughed for 35 days when the United States government went on partial shutdown. This affected Americans all over the nation as they were forced to continue working without pay. The 35 day period was recorded to be the longest shutdown in US history.
“We were lucky. My family and I were not directly affected by the shutdown; however, many of my colleagues here at the Library have spouses who were furloughed,” said director of learning and innovation of the Library of Congress Lee Ann Potter. “They had to deal with not having a substantial part of their income during the shutdown. Most had to tap into their savings or use credit cards more.”
The House of Representatives and the President disagreed over budget allocations and did not meet the fiscal deadline. The House refused to approve the $5.4 billion intended for President Trump’s border security wall; however, without the approval, many paychecks included in that budget did not go through.
“The problem is some workers won’t get back the hourly pay that they’ve missed, like the janitorial staff that may work at national parks,” said government teacher Erin Wise.
Families who depended on regular income suffered financially. Though politicians were the ones to make the executive decision to shut down, many did not get directly impacted.
“It’s frustrating that the people most affected by this were the ones least involved in the decision. Politicians are the ones causing this, and they’re not going to see any impacts. The people living near the poverty line feel the most impact,” social studies department chair Chris Kubic said.
The media was able to frequently update the public about the situation. Politicians in Congress worked together and attempted to compromise with the President about budget allocations.
After 35 days, Congress was able to make an agreement; however, the government will only temporarily open and perhaps close again in as little as three weeks. The shutdown cost $11 billion.
“This means we are living in a very important time. It means that if we want our system to work, we have got to pay attention and get involved. We have to let our elected officials know how we feel. We have to remember that the ‘government’ is much more than our elected officials,” Potter said. “Federal government employees took us to the moon; federal government employees care for our national parks and historic sites; they help make America’s roads and air traffic safe; they provide disaster relief.”
The 2018-19 government shutdown made US history as the longest recorded partial shutdown. America and its people continue to recover financially. Americans reflect on the events.
“I think our leaders need to be more empathetic to the people who are most affected,” Kubic said.