The US government is partially shut down at the moment. And it could be until Thursday, which is nice. It’s not a total shutdown – about 75% of the federal government remains open for business – but nine federal agencies are out, affecting hundreds of thousands of public servants.
So why is this happening?
In what may or may not be a surprise to you, it’s basically about Donald Trump. More specifically, it’s about his proposed wall on the Mexican border.
The Democrats, whose votes we need in the Senate, will probably vote against Border Security and the Wall even though they know it is DESPERATELY NEEDED. If the Dems vote no, there will be a shutdown that will last for a very long time. People don’t want Open Borders and Crime!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 21, 2018
There’s a lot of annoying procedural complexity here that it’s not entirely worth wading through. The long and short of it is this: Donald wants $5 billion to build his border wall. That is not nearly enough money to construct the kind of wall Trump wants made, but it’ll cover some of it. Democrats and Republicans in Congress can’t agree on that, but floated a $1.6 billion bill for border security more generally. Trump rejected that.
Republicans are now trying to ram through a bill which gives Trump significantly more than $5 billion, which he can spend on whatever he wants. Democrats aren’t passing that, meaning it is struggling to hit the Senate’s 60 vote threshold.
This back and forth – combined with Trump’s stubbornness – means that spending bills pertaining to certain agencies and departments haven’t been passed. Ergo, partial government shutdown.
The nine departments affected by the shutdown include Agriculture, Commerce, Homeland Security and the Interior. Roughly 380,000 workers were expected to be sent home, but 420,000 will be kept on in some capacity because they’re considered too important. They won’t be paid until this is straightened out, though.
Ostensibly, there is negotiation going on between Trump and Congress, but Senate Democrats have basically drawn a line in the sand: they won’t give Trump five billion bucks for the wall. Trump says nothing will happen unless they do. That means this shutdown could go on for a long, long while.
Phew. All going well up there, I see. And let’s not forget that this is what Trump is trying to fund:
A design of our Steel Slat Barrier which is totally effective while at the same time beautiful! pic.twitter.com/sGltXh0cu9— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 21, 2018