What Better Way to Start a New Year than With a Government Shutdown?


Scott Ai

Before we get into the operations that have been suspended, let’s look at what is going to stay the same during this shutdown. According to the Associated Press in an article on the New York Times website, “many government operations will continue — U.S. troops will stay at their posts and mail will get delivered. But almost half the 2 million civilian federal workers will be barred from doing their jobs.”


In the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), just as the new tax filing season begins, almost forty-six thousand employees will be sent home. This is occurring right after the colossal GOP tax bill has passed, and according to Marcus Owens, the decade-long IRS department head, “it’s a ‘virtual certainty’ that the larger paychecks will be delayed if there’s a lengthy government shutdown.”


Meanwhile, the Health and Human Services department (HHS) will be sending home over forty thousand employees, disrupting critical programs such as the annual flu vaccination program. The CDC will be unable to support this flu program, and it will be much slower at dealing with disease outbreaks. While Medicaid and Medicare programs continue to run, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which covers more than 9 million kids, will soon run out of funds if Congress does not choose to renew it.


Within the Justice Department, most employees, comprising of U.S. attorneys, DEA/FBI officers, and the national security division, will continue to work and be paid from funds allocated to keep them working during a shutdown. The State Department has prepared a list of nonessential personnel and will begin telling workers if they are being furloughed once they come into work on Monday, January 22nd, 2018.


However, it seems that the Defence Department will continue to operate as usual, with short delays on their paychecks until the shutdown is over. “Mattis said in a departmentwide memo Friday that ‘ships and submarines will remain at sea, our aircraft will continue to fly and our warfighters will continue to pursue terrorists throughout the Middle East, Africa and South Asia.’”


Over 90% of Homeland Security employees will be safe during this shutdown, as they are considered essential for government function. This includes, but is not limited to, the Customs and Border Protection, Transportation Security Administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Secret Service.


Most national parks and monuments will continue to operate at limited to full capacity, a change from previous shutdowns. However, “the National Park Service announced that both New York sites would be closed Saturday ‘due to a lapse in appropriations.’ The park service said the closure of the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island was effective immediately and until further notice.”


For the Department of Transportation, more than half of its workers will continue to work during the shutdown. According to the Associated Press, “the bulk of those staying on the job work for the Federal Aviation Administration, which operates the nation’s air traffic control system.”


The National Institutes of Health will be suspending all non-essential projects, including experimental research projects that have been going on for over two decades, including cancer and vaccine experiments. The agency’s infectious disease chief Dr. Anthony Fauci says “[this] research would be seriously harmed.”


EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt told employees that they had enough funds to keep the agency running for an entire week, and that the agency would reassess their position if the shutdown lasted for more than a week.


More specific details can be found on the New York Times article webpage. Click here to be redirected to that article.


Did you know that the last government shutdown was in the last few months of 2013 during President Obama’s second presidential term? That was less than four years ago!!! Learn more about that in this CNN Q&A type article or this Politico timeline article.


To learn about the seven United States Government shutdowns that occurred within 1980 and 1996, click here to be redirected to a Wikipedia article.

To read an interesting opinion piece by the Washington Post called “Winners and losers of the government shutdown,” click here.