2018-2019 United States Government Shutdown

2018-2019 United States Government Shutdown

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Updated Jan 25, 2019 at 03:20PM EST by Adam.

Added Jan 16, 2019 at 04:42PM EST by Matt.

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The 2018-2019 United States Government Shutdown began at the end of December 2018 due to an unresolved budget measure, regarding border security, specifically the $5.6 billion for United States President Donald Trump's southern border wall. Due to the shutdown, nine executive departments were either partially or totally shut down, leaving 800,000 worker furloughed from work or working without pay. As of January 16th, 2018, it is the longest government shutdown in American history.


On December 11th, 2018, Trump and Pence met with Schumer and Pelosi ahead of the first Congress of the first divided government of Trump's presidency. Prior to the meeting, Republicans held the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives. With the Democrats newly-won majority in the 2018 Midterm Elections, Democrats now control the House of Representatives.[1]

During the meeting, the four discussed a variety of issues, focusing primarily on immigration and a potential government shutdown, Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer confronted Trump several times, regarding incorrect and false statements on immigration, financing and legislation. They informed him that with Democratic control of the House, he would be unable to finance the $5 billion needed for his border wall. Trump erupted at one point saying "I am proud to shut down the government for border security. I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down."

On December 20th, the House of Representatives voted on a temporary spending bill that would allocate money for the border wall. However, because the bill did not pass the Senate, a resolution to fund the government set the stage for an imminent shutdown.[2][3]


Online Reaction

The shutdown became the subject of wide-spread conversation online. On Reddit, threads in /r/AdviceAnimals,[7] /r/News,[8] /r/politics,[9] /r/reactiongifs,[10] /r/space,[11] /r/pics[12] all received more than 45,000 points.

On January 12th, 2019, Redditor[12] EridanusVoid posted an image of "Franklin Davis, a homeless Vietnam veteran, sweeps the Vietnam Veterans Memorial during the government shutdown." The post received more than 144,000 points (91% upvoted) and 3,800 comments in four days (shown below).


Furloughed Workers

As a result of the shutdown, several government departments have closed, either partially or entirely. These include Agriculture, Commerce, Homeland Security, Justice, parts of Interior (such as the Bureau of Reclamation), State, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, Treasury and NASA.[4]

800,000 employees, about 40% of the federal government work in these departments. Of that 800,000, "about 380,000 of the have been furloughed, meaning they cannot come to work and are not being paid. Another 420,000 aren’t being paid, but are required to remain on the job. These include many officials in law-enforcement and homeland security, such as Customs and Border Protection and the Coast Guard."[4]

National Parks

The National Park Service is finding it difficult to operate during the shutdown, which has left many of the country's park open, but with limited access and staffing. As a result, proper maintenance for the parks has ceased. Reports of trash cans and toilets overflowing, damaging many of the parks. Additionally, there have been reports of vandals cutting down Joshua Trees in Joshua Tree National Park.[5]


The shutdown has also led to sweeping absences of Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers. According to reports,[13] more than 7% of TSA employees missed work, leading to longer lines at airport security.

On January 14th. CNN's Omar Jimenez tweeted [14] a video from the Atlanta airport. He wrote, "So I’m at @ATLairport and this may be the longest security line I have ever seen. Even growing up here, and even for a Monday morning. One passenger told me he’d been waiting over an hour and still had about 30 minutes to go." The tweet received more than 8,000 retweets and 14,000 likes in two days.

Donald Trump's Prime-time Immigration Address

On January 8th, 2019, during a government shutdown, which began because President Trump refused to fund the government without $5 billion for the southern border wall, Trump delivered a speech from the Oval Office about what he called a "humanitarian crisis" at the United States southern borderer. [15] The speech aired on several networks, including NBC, ABC, CBS and more.

Following the speech, Democrats refuted Trump's statements. In their rebuttal, Pelosi and Schumer called Trump's wall an "immorality" and said that Trump was holding the American government and the American people "hostage" over this border wall. Schumer said that Trump used the Oval Office address to "manufacturer a crisis, stoke fear and divert attention from the turmoil in his administration."[16]

Donald Trump's "Hamberder" Dinner

On January 7th, 2019, the college football team the Alabama Clemson Tigers won the College Football Playoff National Championship.[1] The following week, President Trump announced that he would be having the team to the White House for a celebratory dinner of "McDonald's, Wendy's and Burger King, with some pizza" (shown below, left) On January 14th, he said, "I believe--I don't know if the weather changes things--but the Clemson championship team, the national championship team, will be coming tonight. It will be exciting. Very great team. They'll be coming tonight. I think we're going to serve McDonald's, Wendy's and Burger King, with some pizza. I really mean it. It would be interesting. I would think that's their favorite food. So we'll see what happens."

That evening, Trump welcomed the team with a buffet from the aforementioned fast food restaurants (shown below, right).

In a statement, deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley said the shutdown was the cause of the unconventional meal. He said, "Because the Democrats refuse to negotiate on border security, much of the residence staff at the White House is furloughed -- so the President is personally paying for the event to be catered with some of everyone's favorite fast foods."[17]

State of the Union

On January 16th, 2019, Pelosi sent a letter to President Trump recommending that the January 29th, 2019 State of the Union be postponed. She wrote,[6] "Given the security concerns and unless government re-opens this week, I suggest we work together to determine another suitable date after government has re-opened for this address or you consider delivering your State of the Union address in writing to the Congress on January 29th." She tweeted, "Today, I wrote to @realDonaldTrump recommending that we delay the State of the Union until after government re-opens, as the @SecretService, the lead federal agency for #SOTU security, faces its 26th day without funding." The tweet received more than 12,000 retweets and 45,000 likes in 24 hours (shown below).

Nancy Pelosi @SpeakerPelosi Today, I wrote to @realDonaldTrump recommending that we delay the State of the Union until after government re-opens, as the @SecretService, the lead federal agency for #SOTU security, faces its 26th day without funding. goo.gl/22vzKa Naney Helosi Speaker January 16, 2019 The President The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Northwest Washington, D.C. 20500 Dear Mr. President On January 3"d, it was my privilege as Speaker to invite you to deliver the State of the Union address on January 29th. The Constitution calls for the President to "from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union." During the 9h Century and up until the presidency of Woodrow Wilson, these annual State of the Union messages were delivered to Congress in writing. And since the start of modern budgeting in Fiscal Year 1977, a State of the Union address has never been delivered during a government shutdown. In September 2018, Secretary Nielsen designated State of the Union Addresses as National Special Security Events (NSSEs), recognizing the need for "the full resources of the Federal Government to be brought to bear" to ensure the security of these events. The extraordinary demands presented by NSSEs require weeks of detailed planning with dozens of agencies working together to prepare for the safety of all participants. The U.S. Secret Service was designated as the lead federal agency responsible for coordinating, planning, exercising, and implementing security for National Special Security Events by Public Law 106-544, December 19, 2000. However, both the U.S. Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security have not been funded for 26 days now- with critical departments hamstrung by furloughs. Sadly, given the security concerns and unless government re-opens this week, I suggest that we work together to determine another suitable date after government has re-opened for this address or for you to consider delivering your State of the Union address in writing to the Congress on January 29th Thank you for your attention to this matter Sincerely

Temporary Reopening

On January 25th, 2019, Donald Trump announced to reporters that he agreed to a deal to reopen the federal government for three weeks until February 15th with no funding for the border wall. He stated that if a deal had not been reached where he receives border wall funding he was open to the possibility of closing the government again or declaring a national state of emergency for the wall, which would strip funds from disaster recovery programs.[18] He stated furloughed federal workers will receive backpay "very quickly or as soon as possible." The deal came after reports that airports grappled with delays caused by the shutdown and federal employees were put at risk of foreclosing their homes.[18]

The move was largely seen as a cave to Democrats on Trump's part,[18][19] and several high-profile right-wing commentators expressed displeasure at the move. Ann Coulter implied Trump was now the biggest wimp to ever be president after the announcement (shown below, left). Mike Cernovich derogatorily referred to Trump as "Commander in Soy" for caving (shown below, right).

Ann Coulter @AnnCoulter Follow Good news for George Herbert Walker Bush: As of today, he is no longer the biggest wimp ever to serve as President of the United States. 3:55 PM- 25 Jan 2019 Mike Cernovich Follow @Cernovich We are now taking calls to talk about the Commander-in-Soy's blabbering "speech" today. OR ILLA MIND C OM EVERYTHING THEY TOLD YOU LIE HOAXE LIVE 865 viewers Roger Stone faces predawn raid, Filmmaker Mike Cernovich tells you what th... Mike Cernovich @Cernovich 3:31 PM-25 Jan 2019

Twitter user @rotschchildmd pointed out that even QAnon posters, notoriously defensive of Trump actions, could not spin the move in a positive way, as several posters felt betrayed.

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