U.S Shutdown Ends: The Impact?

Jan 28, 2019 By Deepa Gopal
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After 35 days of the shutdown, the longest in U.S history, President Trump agreed to reopen the government for three weeks.

During this time, workers will receive their paychecks, and lawmakers will attempt to arrive at a compromise regarding border security.

Both Republicans and Democrats agreed that closing the government to force funding for a wall is ineffective and harmful to the general public. But experts say the impact of the shutdown did more than just affect employee paychecks, and will be felt for a long time. Let's take a look.  

Impact On People

The most obvious impact of the shutdown was the effect on federal employees, more than 800,000 of whom did not receive a paycheck for 35 days. The timing of the shutdown, right after Christmas and holiday season, was not good as federal workers struggled to make ends meet. Without their paycheck, some workers could not fill their refrigerators or pay their rent. Many who were working without pay began to call in sick due to financial hardships.

Impact On Programs

The beginning of the year is also a time when many federal agencies prepare for the year ahead. 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) runs special hurricane readiness programs that educate and prepare local officials for the hurricane season that begins in June. Many science programs that are funded by the NSF (National Science Foundation) have their applications evaluated at this time. 

The cool and wet winter months are also when the National Park Service (NPS) sets fire to clear dead trees and undergrowth in forests, which otherwise would pose a fire hazard during hot summer months. National Parks also depend on entrance fees which goes towards the maintenance of trails.

Some of these programs will be canceled or delayed as federal workers will have to review the priorities. 

Impact On Security

Airports around the country were operating on limited staff, leading to delayed flights. With some TSA employees calling in sick, airports were forced to bring backup officers to handle security. 

One of the biggest threats these days is cybersecurity. With many important government websites operating with a very small crew during the shutdown, it would not take much for hackers to use the opportunity. Workers returning to their desks will have to spend hours going through the computer logs and alert messages.

Impact on Animals

The U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) runs checks to make sure animals are cared for humanely in facilities and in farms where they are bred for food. This was put on hold during the shutdown. Wildlife was also at risk as we saw here in Joshua Tree National Park and in the Everglades where there were incidents reported of illegal poaching and damage to sea turtle and manatee habitats by motorized boats. 

As you can see, shutting down the government because of political differences is never a good idea. Instead, it is important that elected officials resolve conflicts in a responsible way, keeping in mind the interests of the people they serve.

Sources: Bloomberg, Wired, NPR