Written By: Julia Cooper
On December 22, after the federal budget expired and did not get re-approved by the President, federal agencies such as the Department of Commerce, Treasury, Agriculture, State, The Interior, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, Justice, and Homeland Security have ceased operations or significantly cut down on activity.The United States government is currently at a standstill, stretching out a partial government shutdown that has officially surpassed the record for the longest in American history.
The reason this shutdown has lasted for such a long time is that the budget has been placed at the center of a debate between Congress and the President over funding for the proposed border wall. Each side is refusing to find a compromise and everyday citizens are the ones suffering. According to website of CBS News, “more than 420,000 federal employees are working without pay, including agents from the FBI, ATF, DEA and CBP, as well as staff from the State Department, Coast Guard, IRS and Department of Homeland Security.”
The length that this has been dragged on is far too long. Employees are being cheated out of multiple paychecks. There are no excuses that American citizens would fully accept as to why the President and Congress have not solved this devastating issue.
The issue of a partial government shutdown is not only affecting adults in cubicles or officers patrolling the border, the education of our students is also being disrupted by it.
Senior Madison Conroy found her internship for this school year in the NOAA Computer Network Department. NOAA, or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is an organization under the department of commerce. NOAA provides research information on climate change, oceanography and marine life.
“At NOAA, I manually transfer historical research documents,” said Conroy.
Now, Conroy is unable to attend internship and work with her mentor because most NOAA operations have come to a halt. Conroy is planning on majoring in animation in college so her work in the computer department helps her not only gain work experience but also familiarize herself with advanced computer programs.
“When a federal department shuts such as NOAA did, workers are supposed to change their voicemails and emails to have an automatic send back informing people that they are out of service. It’s crazy how much work goes into a shutdown without people getting paid,” said Conroy.
Other ways our community is being disrupted is through the neglect and vandalization of our National parks. Parks like the Everglades are understaffed and at risk of being shut completely because of health and sanitization issues. In some of our nation’s most beloved natural attractions, alarming amounts of trash are being dumped. In Yosemite alone, over 27 tons of garbage have been dumped since the shutdown began.
Sophomore Paola Belsol visited Yosemite National Park over winter break.
“I wanted to see one of the biggest trees in the world but they shut the roads down so I couldn’t see it with my family,” Belsol said.
The only reason that the river of grass, the Everglades, Florida’s ecological wonder and the biggest National park in the state, has remained somewhat tidy thanks to volunteer groups that have taken it upon themselves to remove waste from areas in and surrounding the park.
This partial shutdown has negatively affected millions of individuals and disrupted far too many processes that maintain the Nation’s quality of life. It is time for both Congress and our President to put their partiality and excessive partisanship aside. What the American people need from them now, more than ever is for the budget to be approved so that they can finally be paid for their hard work. This has escalated to a point where U.S citizens are simply being used as pawns in a toxic struggle between politicians eager to push their personal agendas rather than serve the people that elected them. The border wall is an important topic and should be debated over, but not at the expense of the people it would “protect”. The only rational solution for the nation moving forward is to have the budget approved, get government workers back in their paying jobs, and debate the border wall at a later time. A three week reopening is not sufficient to repair the damages that have already been done to American lives.