US Government Shutdown

|

The US Government has been in a partial shutdown since last month because law makers failed to pass a budget which contained a contentious element of funding for President Trump’s promised border wall between the USA and its southern neighbour, Mexico (it would appear that his campaign promise that the wall would be paid for by Mexico has been conveniently forgotten). The wall, as much symbolic as physical, is intended to secure the US southern border and against illegal incursions from undocumented, economic migrants seeking work and a better life in the USA. It is a highly divisive topic.

As a result of the recent mid-term elections, the Democrats have lost control of the Senate, but retaken control of the House. With incoming law makers just sworn in, the budget passes back to the (now Democrat controlled) Congress. The current budget, opposed by the Democrats, sees $5 billion allocated for the construction of the border wall. Mr Trump is due to resume talks with leaders of both parties on the budget later today (Friday).

The new Congress has passed a vote to end the government shutdown, by passing a budget, but as it excludes the wall funding element, it is likely to be vetoed by Mr Trump before it is passed to the Senate (now Republican controlled). In the unlikely event it did pass, funding would be available to run various federal agencies until September and Homeland Security until early next month.

The current partial shuttering of government is the fourth in history and already the longest and the first to bridge the gap between two different Congresses. As a result, roughly 25% of the federal government is unfunded. This has hit nine departments including Agriculture, Commerce, Treasury, the interior, Justice and Homeland Security. It has seen 800000 or so federal employees “furloughed” (laid off, to you and me) sent home without pay or continuing to work pro bono. Some National Parks are running without the safety afforded by their staff and Native American tribes are being deprived of the federal funding which they are entitled to and heavily reliant on.

The incoming speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, described the wall project as “an immorality”, so it seems the dispute could run for quite some time yet.

Dr. Mike Campbell is a British scientist and freelance writer. Mike got his doctorate in Ghent, Belgium and has worked in Belgium, France, Monaco and Austria since leaving the UK. As a writer, he specialises in business, science, medicine and environmental subjects.