Congressional dispute causes brief shutdown

As midnight approached on Jan. 19, Congress tried desperately but futilely to avoid a shutdown, according to TIME Magazine. 

By Ariel Steinsaltz
Staff Writer

As midnight approached on Jan. 19, Congress tried desperately but futilely to avoid a shutdown, according to TIME Magazine.

National park employees are furloughed. (AP Photo)

Both houses of Congress needed to approve a funding measure, but could not agree what to include in the bill. The fight was particularly heated over the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Most Congressional Democrats wanted to continue DACA, which President Donald Trump ended by executive order last year, according to The New York Times.

Republicans wanted funding for the southern border wall Trump promised to build during his campaign, and an end to both chain migration and the diversity visa lottery. Additional funding disputes included the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which Congress allowed to expire in September despite its considerable bipartisan support, according to The New York Times.

On Jan. 18, the House passed a funding bill, but after being declined by the Senate, the government officially shut down. The shutdown includes the furloughing of nonessential workers, including employees in national parks, passport processors and government website maintenance. Essential workers, including the military and border security, work without pay, according to TIME.

During the shutdown nonessential programs ceased, including NASA tours, Air Force Academy athletics and military base commissaries, according to CNN.

There were several shutdowns in the 1970s and 1980s, over such issues as abortion, nuclear missiles, water projects, welfare and the Contra. In the 1990s, two shutdowns occurred when former President Bill Clinton and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich could not agree on a budget, according to The Washington Post.

Most recently, the government shut down in October 2013, when former President Barack Obama and Congressional Republicans could not agree on certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act, according to The New York Times.

On Jan. 23, the government reopened after Congress approved a short-term spending bill, which funds CHIP and came with a promise from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that a vote will be held in the upcoming weeks on immigration issues, which will likely address policy regarding the “dreamers” affected by DACA’s repeal, according to The New York Times.

There was significant debate over who was to blame for the shutdown, according to USA Today. While the short-term bill funds the government through the first week of February, another potential shutdown looms on the horizon if Congress is unable to reach a long-term agreement.