The federal government has now been partially shut down for over a month. Federal employees are working part-time jobs at supermarkets and for ride-sharing apps. GoFundMe, the crowdfunding website, now features hundreds of fundraising pages to help support furloughed government workers.
A government shutdown is when Congress and the president fail to pass and sign legislation funding the federal government and its agencies. The current shutdown is the longest to date, totaling 32 days as of January 22. When the government shuts down, federal workers in the applicable departments are furloughed and do not receive pay. National parks and historic sites are closed or may degrade due to a lack of Park Service employees to properly maintain the site. Businesses that rely on federal workers and agencies also lose money.
The reason for this government shutdown is President Donald Trump’s demand that $5.7 billion be allocated toward a border wall between the United States and Mexico. Democrats in Congress have stood their ground and have refused to give in to the President’s demands. On January 19, President Trump presented a compromise of sorts: in exchange for funding the border wall, DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) would be extended by three years. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced plans to bring this proposal up in the Senate. Democrats, such as Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), have insisted that the federal government be reopened before any negotiations regarding the border wall, DACA, and immigration reform more generally take place. Senator Schumer referred to the proposal as a “hostage-taking” tactic.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) sent the president a letter directing him to either postpone the State of the Union address or deliver it in writing as long as the government remains shut down. The speaker cited extreme security costs in preparing for and hosting the address. The Department of Homeland Security said that protecting the event would not be an issue for them. Until President Woodrow Wilson delivered his State of the Union address in person in 1913, the State of the Union had always been delivered as a written letter to Congress since 1800. A day after Speaker Pelosi’s letter made headlines, President Trump denied Speaker Pelosi use of a military plane for a scheduled trip to visit the U.S. combat zone in Afghanistan and suggested that she fly commercial instead.
Outside of the drama on the Hill, the government shutdown is impacting citizens across the country. Over 2,000 Granite Staters have been directly impacted by the government shutdown and left without paychecks. Congressman Chris Pappas (D-NH-1) has refused to receive pay until the entire federal government is reopened. In an interview with WMUR, Congressman Pappas said, “As someone who has run a small business, I could not imagine receiving a paycheck while any of my employees are working without pay. For this reason, I write today to request that my pay be withheld until the current shutdown has ended and the entire federal government is reopened.”
Across the state, local businesses, banks, and food pantries are opening their doors to help furloughed federal workers make ends meet. Southern New Hampshire University has established a $1 million emergency fund for students impacted by the government shutdown. The Friendly Church in Portsmouth is offering free meals for furloughed workers, with proof of employment. Click here for a full list of resources available across New Hampshire.