Government shutdown leaves many employees without work, paychecks

By: Brian Smith, Columnist

For over 32 days, many Americans have woken up without certainty and without pay under President Donald Trump’s leadership. The Trump shutdown compromise seems to be in grave danger as the GOP continues to push non-starter offers to reopen the government during a crippling shutdown.

To evaluate how this started, it can be traced back to a meeting between Trump and democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer in the White House on Dec. 11. During this meeting, Trump himself said that he would personally shut down the government if he did not get his wall funded by $5.7 billion in taxpayer money.

Days later, both the House and Senate passed a bipartisan bill that would keep the government open; however, Trump refused to accept this effort simply because both Republicans and Democrats refused to fund his wall and continued the debate. In the following days, Republicans changed their tune as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stated publicly that he refused to put any bill that would end the shutdown to a vote without Trump’s approval.

Luckily, there was a glimmer of hope as a bipartisan effort to give back pay to furloughed workers passed in both chambers with a unanimous vote in the senate and a vote of (411-7) in the House. While this was a start, it still meant that nearly 800,000 workers would continue working without pay which Trump once deemed acceptable because “Most of the people not getting payed are Democrats.”

Once again Trump changed his demeanor by Jan. 20 when he tweeted To all of the great people who are working so hard for your Country and not getting paid I say, THANK YOU – YOU ARE GREAT PATRIOTS!” After rejecting each attempt by Congress to put this shutdown to an end, Trump then offered a non-starter proposal by once again taking aim at dreamers as he offered to extend temporary protective status for those whose parents brought them to the U.S. as children.

Not only is this destructive to those who are perusing a productive life toward the American dream, but it is also rather ineffective given Trump’s DACA appeal won’t be heard at the Supreme Court for at least another year. All this deal offers is more divisive rhetoric fueled by taking DACA recipients hostage and flinging more people into grave uncertainty. Instead, the solution to ending this shutdown is to simply support what gained bipartisan support in the first place. This includes fully funding and reopening the government to put those 800,000 workers back to paid work and saving the politics for later.

Both Democrats and Republicans have supported funding border security, however, the core disagreement lies in Trump’s call for a wall as Democrats believe that it would do nothing to solve the drug and immigration crisis. U.S. Customs and Borders statistics show 90 percent of heroin, 88 percent of cocaine, 87 percent of methamphetamine and 80 percent of fentanyl coming into the country are all coming through legal points of entry. In addition to these statistics, a Pew Research Poll shows most Americans oppose Trump’s border wall by a margin of 58 percent to 40 percent.

If Republicans want Democrats to come to a consensus on border security, they must drop the idea of Trump’s border wall. Rather than an ineffective wall, Democrats believe the way to bring about better border security is by funding infrastructure, increasing personnel, adding new scanning technology to detect drugs at ports of entry while investing innovative technology to detect other unauthorized crossings and creating a pathway to citizenship for the dreamers.

If this doesn’t end soon, more families, students, and individuals may continue to face deep financial hardships. Those whose parents are federal workers have seen their family struggle in the last few weeks with how to pay for necessities and continue to make an honest living in their current line of work. For those about to graduate, a long government shutdown could eliminate potential job prospects as they enter the workforce with a federal government that employs over two million Americans.

Many Towson students may not be receiving their tax returns on time which could be used towards rent payments, loan payments or groceries. Furthermore, any attempt by Trump to end temporary status may harm DACA recipients on campus working toward a productive life in the only country most of them have ever known.

As stated before, the best solution would lie in Trump supporting the bills that have already gained bipartisan support. The only responsible course for the president to take is to reopen the government, put 800,000 people back to work, and save the political debate about immigration reform for another day. The Democrats are ready to reopen the government, but that must include this president stop putting his own self-interests before those of the thousands of families across this country affected by the Trump shutdown.

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