The Government Shutdown Explained

  • February 5, 2018

On Friday, January 19, 2018, the United States government shutdown began at midnight, an event that hasn’t happened since 2013. But what caused it to shut down?

Government shutdowns are all about the budget. The US Constitution states that all usage of federal funds must be authorized by Congress and approved by the President of the United States. The process of creating and agreeing on this budget occurs on a fiscal year cycle spanning from October 1st to September 30th of the following year. If either Congress or the President has not authorized or approved the budget for the next year by the end of the fiscal year, the government is forced to shut down due to lack of funding.

This past fiscal year, the Republicans and Democrats in Congress were unable to come to an agreement on a budget. They passed several temporary motions to keep the government running until January 19th, hoping that they would be able to reach an agreement by then. Unfortunately, a deal was not made, and the government was forced to shut down.

The conflict mostly stemmed from disagreements about DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that helps immigrants brought to the United States as children to stay in the country. President Trump announced late 2017 that he intended to end DACA, a move opposed by the Democrat party. Some Congress members hoped to use the spending plan to come to an agreement on DACA, but attempts to compromise failed, leading to the midnight deadline finding Congress in a standstill.

The shutdown lasted nearly three days before a resolution bill was passed in the Senate on Monday, January 22. This resolution allowed for temporary government funding through February 8, 2018, giving Congress more time to reach a permanent deal. The House of Representatives also passed the bill, and President Trump approved it, meaning that the government will remain open, at least for the time being. Hopefully, a long term deal can be reached before then to ensure that it remains open for even longer.


Information for this article came from CNN, NBC, and Vox.

photo from U.S. Department of Defense

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