Numerous parts of the federal government have been shut down for over three weeks, officially becoming the longest government shutdown in U.S. history on January 12. The shutdown, which began on December 21, began when President Donald Trump refused to sign a spending bill that would fund the government through fiscal year 2019, unless it included $5.7 billion for his proposed wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.
Due to the shutdown, numerous government departments, agencies and programs have gone without funding. One such agency is the National Parks Service, which has forced most national parks to either close, or close at night. Some states have passed spending bills to pay for minimal upkeep of parks in their states, including Arizona, which is paying $9,200 to keep the Grand Canyon National Park open, and Puerto Rico, which agreed to pay about $80,000 to keep open the San Juan National Historic Site for two weeks, according to the Associated Press.
“I just think it’s a waste of our time and our money for a wall that we’ve been able to go without,” junior Mia Politte said.
Nine of the 15 government departments are without funding during the shutdown, though some spending bills have provided temporary funding for some of these departments, or agencies under them. More than 420,000 workers considered essential by the federal employees are also working without pay, with another 380,000 federal employees being furloughed.
On January 10, the senate passed by unanimous consent legislation giving federal employees back pay, but this would not include payment for debts accrued during the shutdown as he first paycheck aas missed on January 11.
“I would say just pay the workers for the wages that they missed,” junior Megan Walkenhorst said.
Trump gave a statement on January 8 in which he outlined his reasons for the shutdown. During the statement, Trump argued there was a national crisis due to an influx of immigrants crossing the border. House speaker Nancy Pelosi and senate minority leader Chuck Schumer conducted a response to the statement in which they pressured Trump to end the shutdown, and separate immigration from government funding.
“There are too many illegal immigrants that are migrating to the US and taking our jobs,” freshman Andrew Bontrager said.
The House of Representatives passed numerous spending bills on January 3, the first day of the democratic majority. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has refused to bring the bills to the floor funding the government, and has objected to all motions by democrats moving to pass spending bills by unanimous consent. Senate democrats announced they plan to block all bills not including funding for the government.
“I take an oath of office to protect this country first, and we are turning our back on this country. We can continue to have the debate about the best way to secure the border, but it should not be done by holding the American people hostage,” Montana senator Jon Tester said during a speech in the senate on January 16.