U.S. Government Shutdown Stretches into 3rd Week

Over 800,000 federal employees have been sidelined by the U.S. government (partial) shutdown that began on December 21 at midnight and has yet to be resolved. U.S. President Donald Trump gave an impassioned speech on Tuesday night, outlining the dangerous activities taking place along the Mexican border, and why he believes that a border wall (which will cost 5.7 billion in taxpayer dollars), is necessary to eradicate these threats. His words, however, seem to have fallen on deaf ears as lawmakers remain divided on the issue and have yet to reach an agreement that will end the shutdown. If the shutdown is not resolved by the weekend, it will become the longest U.S. government shutdown on record.

The Ugliest Side of the Shutdown

Those who are arguably hurt the most by the government shutdown are the hundreds of thousands of federal employees who haven’t received a paycheck since the new year started. Many federal employees, especially those working for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) have been calling in sick in protest of the shutdown, throwing a wrench into systems that impact millions of people. The Environmental Protection Agency is planning a ‘national sick day’ as its own form of protest. Thousands of workers at the Department of Homeland Security have been furloughed or asked to work without pay, as have nearly 70,000 workers at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). National parks are closed due to the shutdown, as are bathrooms in many public facilities, such as the Lincoln Memorial are closed as well.

But it isn’t just federal employees that are being directly affected. The country’s food assistance program will run out of funding by the end of the month and may not meet demand expected in February if the shutdown is not resolved. Some 39 million Americans rely on food stamps, and the program is quickly running out of funding, leaving recipients worried about what they’ll do in the coming days. An expired program run by the Housing and Urban Development leaves millions of tenants facing eviction and praying that the program will be renewed when the shutdown is resolved.

How Can the Shutdown be Resolved?

At the moment, a clear path towards resolution remains elusive. Potential opportunities for ending the shutdown include funding of the wall with lower levels of funding that President Trump hopes for. Alternatively, a deal for the wall’s infrastructure may be reached now, but with an open-ended opportunity for limiting the construction funds, which will stall the process later on.

No matter what happens, it will be interesting to see how President Trump ‘spins’ the process and the results in his upcoming State of the Union address at the end of January.

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Sara Patterson has a Master’s Degree in political science and enjoys analyzing both current events and the international markets to get a fuller perspective of the currency market. Before turning to financial writing, she taught English writing skills to high-school age students. Sara’s work has been published on various financial and Forex blogs.