An unplanned vacation for many government workers ensued on at the end of last year. As funding ceased for organizations, furloughed workers and U.S. citizens anticipated the government reboot.
Since 1976, when the modern congressional budgeting process began, there have been 20 government shutdowns; however, the longest government shutdown in U.S. history began on Dec. 22, 2018 as Republicans, Democrats and the White House debated on how to fund the nation’s organizations. Not only does this partially disable governmental agencies such as the National Parks and small town governments, but also the IRS and other institutions.
Students such as sophomore Scott Lightborn, who are attempting to fill out the FAFSA for the upcoming school year, lose access to the IRS transfer tool. Additionally, Lightborn needs to receive a selected service number to be selected in the draft. Because he recently turned 18 and was only recently given a social security number, he needed to contact the Selective Service System, which is currently unfunded.
Lightborn said the frustrating process has taken months to figure out, and he had hoped to get it finished before the beginning of the semester. With this extended shutdown, however, he has yet to solve the problem.
Although the SSS does not affect all students at John Brown University, sophomore political science major Owen Teixeira said that all students should be informed about the government shutdown.
“It’s big for us students to understand because … it’s got tentacles and it touches everything and it affects everything,” Teixeira said.
One of the reasons the government is still unfunded is that Republicans and Democrats in the House and the Senate are arguing about funding to build a wall on the Mexican border.
“I think people give President Trump too much power when they say, ‘Trump is causing a shutdown.’ That’s not the case because he doesn’t have legislative power … it’s the legislators that aren’t working together,” Teixeira said. “Trump is pushing for a wall but if the Republicans decided to say, ‘screw it, we’re going to pass this bill anyways and fund the government,’ it would happen. Or if the Democrats on the other side say, ‘let’s give him a wall’ and negotiate on other terms [it would happen].”
“It’s a game of chicken going on right now between the Senate and the House Republicans and Democrats,” Teixeira said. “Who is going to budge first?”
According to Aljazeera, on Dec. 11, President Trump said he would be proud to shut down the government in order to create funding for border security. By Dec. 19, the Senate passed a short-term bill to keep the government running through Feb. However, after Trump said he would not sign this bill, the House created their own version of the bill and sent it back to the Senate. Throughout January the House and Senate debated how much to fund for border security, but to no avail.
Teixeira said that as constituents, students could reach out to their legislators to demonstrate that reopening the government is important, but there could be other ways as well.
“As we are the voters, what do we institute to make a change or to make a more functioning government?” Teixeira said. “Reaching out to legislators is the main street … If you’re thinking outside the box, how does the younger generation reach [legislators]? It’ll be through some sort of video … If timing is right and its clever enough, that’s the way the Gen Z [population can] make the change.”