It costs the management of the government money, and it is up to Congress to manage the purse strings.
While the government is in the middle of its third stop under the leadership of President Donald Trump – the longest in US history – it has no secret at the very least: one of the most fundamental functions of the legislative branch has been broken.
Congress let funding from federal agencies expire again because the president is calling for funding for a wall on the southern border, an animal project for which Congress does not have enough support to be adopted.
The US Capitol is seen in Air Force One on January 14, 2019, as the government begins its fourth week of partial closure. Mandel Ngan / AFP / Getty Images
Hundreds of thousands of federal employees are not paid. Basic government functions, such as the maintenance of national parks or the inspection of the national food supply in diseases, have been halted or substantially reduced. Funding for key safety nets, such as food aid, will be exhausted in a few months.
The Constitution gives Congress the "power of the stock market" – the ability to tax and spend money on the federal government, largely to ensure that the executive does not spend money on the money. money willy-nilly. But Trump runs the show, threatening to veto bills that do not reflect his radical immigration program. Until now, Republicans stand behind him and Democrats join him.
In the era of divided government, when Democrats and Republicans are more polarized than they have ever been, government spending is perhaps the most bipartisan exercise to which Congress is charged. So far, they are stuck.
Vox asked members of the audience about Twitter and Facebook for their questions about the stop. Below are some answers to some of these questions.
1) What is a government stop?
Under the Constitution, Congress is supposed to periodically pass bills that approve federal spending. In practice, these expense invoices can last for a few weeks, a few months or a whole year; they can finance the entire government or only a part of it.
At the expiry of the current spending bill, legislators must adopt a new one for the government to continue operating. Usually, but not sometimes: over the past 40 years, the government has closed, although most of them were in the 1970s and 1980s.
Whatever the case may be, without an approved spending plan, the federal government is starting to close.
Government agencies without approved funding suspend their activities. Agencies are closing their doors, they are ceasing to provide services and their employees are either on leave or forced to work without pay – which is forcing many to give up their jobs.
Now the all the government never closes its doors – major programs such as the military, health insurance and social security are considered mandatory spending and continue to advance even if there is a stalemate in Congress. But the rest of the government depends on these periodic expense bills to keep running.
Government employees protest Chicago closure on January 10, 2019.Scott Olson / Getty Images
2) How is the stop produced this time?
On December 21, 2018, Congress allowed the funding of approximately 25% of the federal government to expire. By midnight deadline, the House and Senate had still not passed spending bill affecting appropriations to nine federal agencies and the government had partially shut down, as it still is aujourd & # 39; hui.
Government closures are usually the result of a deadlock in Congress. But this partial shutdown has almost nothing to do with policy disagreements in the corridors of the Capitol Building – and everything related to President Trump.
The stalemate leading to Trump's $ 5 billion request to start building a wall on the southern border, which Democrats refuse to support. Trump has been asking for wall funding since taking office, but every time Congress has negotiated spending bills, Republicans have conceded the wall in exchange for funding for other priorities.
In the weeks leading up to the December 21 deadline, it seemed like Republicans and Democrats would do the same. The Senate passed an expenditure bill that fully finances the government but does not touch the wall of the border (instead, it included $ 1.3 billion for border security in general), which had enough support to be adopted by the House then under Republican control. But Trump said he would veto this bill. The House, then led by President Paul Ryan, passed a $ 5.7 billion bill of expenditure with only Republican votes, which the Senate could never adopt, nor the ongoing negotiations nor the government to close.
Since then, the new majority in the House of Democrats has passed the 2018 Senate bill to reopen the government not including funding the wall, but the new Senate, still controlled by Republicans and taking into account Trump's requests, will not take over. this bill again.
The congress is blocked. Democrats say they will not negotiate a wall or border security until Trump reopens the government. Trump does not back down, even threatening to declare a national emergency and reclaim military funding from the border through the fiat (he put this idea on hold). And the Republicans are sitting idle.
Welcome to the longest government stop in the history of the United States.
On January 8, 2019, President Trump spoke to the nation in his first prime-time speech at the Oval Office; followed by Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer who gave the Democratic response. Carlos Barria-Pool / Getty Images; Puce Somodevilla / Getty Images
3) What government programs are affected by this closure and when?
A large part of the government is already feeling the pain of closure in multiple ways: the help to farmers affected by Trump administration tariffs is delayed, revisions of SOPs and mergers are suspended and the cases of Immigration could be deferred. The main services involved include staffing in national parks – which have remained open but are being ransacked, and inspections by the Environmental Protection Agency, such as oil refineries and power plants, which were paused.
Nine of the 15 federal departments and a number of agencies are affected by this closure, including EPA, IRS and the departments of the State, Housing and Urban Development, Treasury, Agriculture, Trade, Interior, Justice and Homeland Security. The Congress has fully funded the military (with the exception of the US Coast Guard) and the departments of Veterans, Labor, Education, Health and Social Services.
Javier Zarracina / Vox
Each affected department and the agencies working on it have their own contingency plan on how to manage the closure. They consider that employees are "essential" – and must work without pay – and "non-essential" meaning that they can be discharged (or sent home without pay).
At DHS, for example, the majority of workers, including border patrollers, remain at work, while most IRS and EPA workers have been sent home without pay.
If closure continues, these effects should only worsen.
The USDA has announced that food stamps will be funded until February, but it is not clear whether the agency will have the funds to keep the program beyond this point. It is also feared that the IRS will be in trouble with this year's tax season, the first to implement Republican tax reforms, although the Trump administration has stated that repayments would still be processed as soon as possible.
Everything does not stop working during a government shutdown. The military, air traffic control, federal prisons and social security, Medicare and Medicaid should continue to function.
4) Who is responsible for this judgment?
Most government judgments give rise to endless blame games. But in this case, Trump officially declared his responsibility. At a meeting with Democratic leaders before the spending deadline, he said he would be happy to overthrow the government in order to force lawmakers to fund the wall of his southern border.
"I am proud to close the government for border security," Trump told Democratic leaders just over a week before the start of the last shutdown.
In December, at the last minute, the president withdrew his support for an expenditure plan that had already been adopted by the Senate, which led to the closure. The American public therefore resents him more for the impasse than for the Democrats in Congress.
Generally, if you are the one who is claiming a policy change in exchange for government funding, rather than agree to keep the government open while you try to get what you want with politics, you are responsible for closing the government. Today, it is the asset. He wants the wall border in exchange for the opening of the government.
Republican leaders could still pass a spending bill, even in the face of Trump's veto threat. Democrats believe that it is necessary to vote for a bill reopening the government and even to cancel Trump's veto if necessary. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has refused to propose a spending bill without Trump's approval.
The best question might be who is responsible. Republican members of Congress closed the government in 2013 in a futile attempt to arrest Obamacare. Voters punished them in 2014 by giving them a brilliant new majority in the Senate. The Democrats closed the government for a few days in early 2018 due to the Deferred Action Plan for Child Arrivals (DACA), and the price tag was to … win a majority in the mid-term.
There is simply no evidence that voters have grudges about closures; they might see it as a general sign of dysfunction in Washington, but that is not their main problem when they go to the polls.
Again, this is the longest government shutdown in our history. We are in unknown territory.
President Trump speaks with Nancy Pelosi, then minority leader in the House, and Senate Leader Chuck Schumer, along with Vice President Mike Pence, at a meeting at the Oval Office on December 11, 2018.Jin Botsford / The Good Medical via Getty Images
5) How long can a government stop?
The government reopens when Congress passes a spending bill to fund the government and Trump turns it into law. It can last indefinitely. (Trump even joked that it could last months or even years.)
It is unlikely to last that long, largely because closures have a real impact on people's lives and political pressure will ultimately defeat lawmakers. It should be noted, however, that on September 30, 2019, the end of this fiscal year, the expense invoices for the currently funded jurisdictions will expire.
For the moment, the government is still partially closed due to two disagreements.
One is a longstanding struggle on border security and the other, a negotiation on the right time to reopen the government. The impasse finally results in a difference of priorities. Trump wants a border wall before reopening the government. Democrats want Trump to reopen the government before talking about border security.
This can end in three ways:
- Trump cellars, agreeing to reopen the government without funding the border wall.
- Democrats are collapsing, accepting all or part of the border-wall funding that Trump wants and votes for a spending bill.
- The Republicans give in and join the Democrats to pass a veto-dominated spending bill to fund the government without Trump's approval.
It is important to remember that, as in most bipartite negotiations, government spending struggles involve political parties that exert their influence. It's a chicken game, where both sides are on a collision course that ends with a painful government shutdown. In the end, someone must give in.
On January 14, 2019, President Trump served a restoration that he purchased for a ceremony in honor of national football championship playoff champion, Clemson Tigers, in the White House dining room. to the White House. According to Trump, White House leaders are being sidelined due to the partial closure of the government. .Saul Loeb / AFP / Getty Images
6) What about all federal employees and contractors who are not paid? What are their rights?
Last Friday, about 800,000 federal employees missed their first paycheck. Approximately 380,000 employees have been laid off and another 420,000 are currently working without pay. Congress has already passed a bill that guarantees the payment of arrears to all federal employees once the closure is over, but that does not help much during the fourth week.
Javier Zarracina / Vox
In addition, thousands of federal contractors are potentially affected by the closure. According to Professor Paul Light of the NYU, nearly 500,000 contractors are affiliated with agencies that are being shut down. Many of these subcontractors will not receive any salary arrears, while others may not see any impact on their salary, depending on how their employers negotiated their contracts.
Interestingly, federal employees can not use the strike to protest the current situation. Because of the Taft-Hartley Act, passed in 1947, it is in fact illegal for federal employees to go on strike and many unions have urged their members to abstain. As Quartz points out, the impetus for the law was to deter federal employees from disrupting vital government services by seeking better wages. He probably did not think the workers would go on strike because they were not paid for their services, notes the Atlantic.
Workers who do not come to the office because they are on strike could be considered "absent without permission," Jacque Simon, director of policy for the American Federation of Government Employees, told the Atlantic. As a result, they could be punished at work or even lose their jobs.
They have a recourse, however.
The American Federation of Government Employees filed a class action suit against the Trump administration, pointing out that it was illegal to keep workers at work without compensation. He had won a similar challenge after the closure in 2013, ultimately guaranteeing workers who participated in the lawsuit twice the late pay they were due.
7) How many times has the government closed in the past?
The government has been closed 21 times since 1976, when the modern budgeting process came into effect for the federal government. Since then, only one president – George W. Bush – has succeeded throughout his term without interruption.
The closures began to occur frequently under President Jimmy Carter; five stops occurred while he was president. Under Carter, government agencies had a tight budget during closures but continued to operate only after 1980, when Attorney General Benjamin Civiletti then issued legal opinions, concluding that for the federal government to does not violate the 1884 antidefence law, the agencies really had to close their doors.
The largest number of government closures under any president took place under President Ronald Reagan's mandate. Under his mandate, there were eight stops, but they were relatively short and lasted one to three days.
Jaiver Zarracina / Vox
Until the last stop of Trump, the record holder of the longest stop was the second stop of President Bill Clinton, which lasted 21 days during which Clinton and the Republicans of the Congress could not put themselves agree on an expenditure bill.
And until now, Trump has had three work stoppages: a January 2018 stop on immigration and expenses, a very short government shutdown in February 2018 after Senator Rand Paul (R-KY ) was passionate about the government 's budget ceilings, and the current A 24 – day stop not counting … which, again, concerns immigration.
8) Do other developed countries have closures by the government?
Government closures are only American. In the United States, when the government closes its doors, the people who are most often suffering from it are unpaid public servants or people who depend on the relevant federal programs, such as food vouchers. In other developed countries like Australia, it is the politicians who are suffering the consequences of a shutdown of production. For example, the Australian parliament risks being dissolved if the government is not funded, which in theory makes it less likely.
"We can not find another democracy that is closing itself," House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters. Referring to the dissolving Parliament in Australia, Hoyer joked that this "would not be a bad alternative".
Other developed countries also have a lower threshold for adopting budgets – a budget usually requires a simple majority rather than the higher percentage required by the US Senate. Simple majorities help prevent this type of blockage, but they can also run the risk of making budgets more partisan because fewer people need to adopt them.
There are not many situations comparable to the current closure of the government in Europe and other developed countries; Northern Ireland nearly shut down the government at the end of 2004, before the intervention of Britain (Northern Ireland is part of the UK). But many other governments are designed not to hinder their activities if the legislator fails to allocate funds.
People gather against the partial closure of the Federal Government outside the US Capitol on January 10, 2019. Mark Wilson / Getty Images
9) This is the third time the government has closed in one year. Why does this continue to happen?
It is not unusual for government spending struggles to be scrutinized. The budgeting and appropriations process is a difficult bipartite exercise that forces Democrats and Republicans to make serious concessions on political priorities. (And Congress is really good at procrastinating, leaving very little time for last-minute issues.)
Congress's inability to maintain this process three times in one year paints a clear picture of the current political landscape.
The first closing under Trump took place in January 2018 because of the White House's immigration program; Progressive activists urged Democratic lawmakers to use their influence in the fight against spending to ensure that Congress would protect undocumented immigrants thrown into legal limbo after the Trump government attempted to end DACA .
The second closing took place a month later, in February 2018. Rand Paul was angry at a deal negotiated by congressional leaders that upset the government's budget ceilings since 2013. He delayed the voting process in recent years. hours and left unused funds overnight. , to send a political message about government spending.
The current closure – which Trump has been threatening for months – lies beyond the border wall, a campaign promise made in 2016 as part of an alarming anti-immigration agenda.
Throughout history, government closures have highlighted periods of intense policy division, whether in debt management in the 1990s or funding of the Affordable Care Act. 2013. It is important to note, however, that the political calculation of a government closure has evolved over time. Closures were once considered a complete disaster. They are now part of the political strategy.
Hundreds of federal workers and contractors mobilize against the partial closure of the federal government in front of the AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington, DC on January 10, 2019.Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images