Government shutdown in the United States: What is it? Why are Donald Trump, Republican Party against this?

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New Delhi | Published: January 19, 2018 12:30:34 PM

Government shutdown in the United States: The grey clouds of a 'shut down' are looming large over the United States, as the Congress has been unable to reach a consensus on the tabled bills. The government will have no money to carry on with its functions if members of the Senate fails to come on the same page by midnight today.

donald trump us government shutdownPresident Donald Trump gives the thumbs-up as he arrives on Marine One at the White House in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018, as he returns from Pittsburgh. (AP Photo)

Government shutdown in the United States: Congress coming to a consensus in Donald Trump’s America has been rare. However, this time around, the water has gone overboard. President Trump tweeted in May that perhaps – US needs a good ‘shutdown.’ It is very likely that his tweet might just come true by midnight today (January 19). If the Senate doesn’t reach consensus on the tabled bills, the government will have no money to carry out expenditure.

In the United States (US), if both houses of Congress are unable to pass a funding proposal — which, at this point, looks very possible, then the United States federal government ‘shuts down’. The US Congress is made up of two Houses – the Senate and the House of Representatives. The House of Representatives voted Thursday (January 18) night to avert a government shutdown, sending the bill on to the Senate, where its future is much less certain.

The crux of the issue

In the United States, the fiscal year begins from October 1. By that time, Congress and the President are supposed to enact 12 appropriation bills that fund the government’s discretionary programs. However, all the Congress has seen since then is ‘continuing resolution’ – a resolution that helps negotiate time for the impending bill and makes provision for the government expenditure till then.

Seeds of Discord

Donald Trump led Republicans haven’t been able to take the Democrats into confidence on these issues – Trump’s proposal to build a wall on the Mexico borders, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, laws related to immigrants and immigration, allocation of defense and domestic spending, and a few others.

Is shifting deadline possible?

Yes, it is possible but it’s unclear if a continuing resolution would pass this time. Many Congressmen have indicated they won’t vote for a short-term spending measure this time.

What happens in a shutdown?

A shutdown doesn’t mean every federally-funded agency, program, and service will grind to a halt. Those considered ‘essentials’ will continue to operate while whoever works for agencies and departments that are considered ‘non-essentials’, including agencies that pay out small business loans and process passport requests, will cease to work until Congress is able to agree on a bill for the federal budget. The employees in these departments would be placed on ‘furlough’. For instance, essential services, such as Social Security, air traffic control, and the Transportation Security Administration, will continue to be funded. The US Postal Service will also continue to function. On the other hand, national parks, zoos or museums will be closed down.
As of now, at least three groups of lawmakers are still trying to hammer out a DACA deal. Republicans are making an effort to lure the Democrats into passing the bills with some measures. However, all depends on the course of proceedings in the House tonight.

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