Government Shutdown Affects Everyone—Even You!
The United States is in its 22nd day of the government shutdown as of today, January 12, 2019. It is the longest shutdown in US history beating out the previous record of 21 days at the end of December 1995 and the beginning of January 1996 under President Bill Clinton.
Everyone has heard about how it is affecting federal employees who are working without pay or being furloughed. What people fail to realize is that the government shutdown affects everyone and not just federal employees.
Only 21 of 80 people who help care for the White House are reporting to work. This includes butlers, chefs, electricians, and others. Those who are not working without pay have been furloughed
It is true that federal workers are the ones that are hit the hardest because of the shutdown, but it will eventually trickle down to all Americans.
About 800,000 federal employees are either working without pay or being furloughed. Both chambers of Congress passed legislation that guarantees back pay at the end of the shutdown to those who have worked.
Since no end is in sight, some federal employees on furlough have taken other jobs to make money to pay their bills. Many have accepted low paying jobs and substitute teaching positions.
Departments Affected and Not Affected By Government Shutdown
The following nine federal departments employ about 800,000 workers who won't get paid during the long government shutdown. About 420,000 federal employees must work without pay, and about 380,000 federal employees are furloughed. Each department designates which employees must work and which ones should not report to work.
Essential employees must continue working with no pay during the shutdown. They will receive all the pay they have earned after the shutdown is over. Nonessential employees are furloughed and do not have to report to work at all until the shutdown is over.
Departments Affected By the Government Shutdown
- Homeland Security
- Housing and Urban Development
Most employees at Homeland Security are essential and are working without pay. Most employees at the Internal Revenue Service are considered nonessential and have been furloughed.
Departments Not Affected by the Shutdown
- Health and Human Services
- Veteran Affairs
How the Shutdown Affects the General Public
The shutdown has made it extremely hard for federal workers. Their creditors know that and have made allowances for them to pay their bills.
The shutdown is affecting the general public and the US economy. According to S&P Global Ratings, the shutdown could amount to about $1.2 billion from the economy for each week that the government is partially closed. As of Friday, January 11, the US economy had lost $3.6 billion. The irony is that the loss will soon exceed the amount President Trump is demanding for the proposed border wall.
The public knows how often foods and drinks are recalled because of some risks federal inspectors have discovered. The government shutdown has delayed food inspections. Not as many employees are inspecting food for Listeria, E-coli, and salmonella. In other words, even the food we eat might be at risk since food inspections have been delayed or minimized.
The shutdown also affects emergency aid from the Department of Agriculture for farmers, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Applications for emergency programs and routine services for farmers, such as loan decisions and mortgage assistance have been put on hold.
The shutdown affects potential IPOs (short for initial public offering) or the very first sale of stock issued by a company to the public. IPOs are handled by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the government agency responsible for enforcing the federal securities laws and regulating securities. Of its 4,436 employees, it is operating with just 285 of them.
Small businesses and restaurants are impacted as they wait for beverage licenses and other applications to be approved. Their businesses can't continue to sell alcohol if their licenses need to be renewed during the shutdown.
Al Roker, meteorologist of the Today show say even reporting the weather has been impacted. He explained there is a lack of workers to input data into modern technology for reporting accurate weather conditions.
Food Stamps and Other Programs for Low Income Families
Fortunately, social security benefits have not been affected. Medicare and Medicaid are the same as they have always been. Millions of low-income families who receive food stamps from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will get their February food stamps a few weeks early before the program runs out of money. Therefore, about 39 million households enrolled in the program will get their February allowance between January 18 and January 20. That date is a few weeks earlier than the usual first of the month date. The decision for the early allotment is an indication that the shutdown will continue into next month. Therefore, billions of dollars in food stamp payments are going out early as the shutdown continues.
Supermarkets such as Kroger, Walmart, and Safeway are preparing for SNAP shoppers that make up about 10 percent of their business each month. They are making sure they have enough food stocked and employees available to handle the volume of purchases.
More good news is that there is sufficient funding for the February allotment for Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children provides staple foods, infant formula, and breastfeeding support to millions of low-income pregnant mothers and their young children.
The National School Lunch Program, which serves about 30 million children each day, also has enough funding to last through the end of March.
Ellen Vollinger, food stamp and legal director at the Food Research & Action Center, said that it is unknown what will happen for any of these programs much longer. However, USDA officials said that if the shutdown continues, they'll look for other ways to keep federal nutrition programs operating the best way they can for as long as they can.
Is the End of the Shutdown in Sight?
For now, there is still no end in sight for the current shutdown, which has impacted roughly a quarter of the federal government and at least 800,000 federal workers. The shutdown is at an impasse, and no one knows when it will end. President Donald Trump and the Democrats have not made any progress toward putting an end to it. Trump said the shutdown could go on for months or even years.
The President is insisting that he wants more than $5 billion to fund the wall for the US-Mexico border. The Democrats have refused to meet that demand. Instead, they have offered a far smaller sum for security and asked the President to reopen the government now and negotiate border security later. Trump has been steadfast and rejected the Democrats' offer.
The President said he has the authority to dismiss what Congress wants and declare a national emergency to obtain the funding for a border wall. So far, Democrats and some Republicans don't see building a border wall as a national emergency. Some people think President Trump is using federal employees as pawns to fulfill his personal agenda.