A Government in Pause

Bhanu Cheepurupalli '21

In the wake of the government shut down last month, Peddie students and faculty’s reactions mirrored those of the nation at large. “The Democrats and Republicans in Congress need to come to an agreement as soon as possible, because so many people who work for the government are out of jobs, which directly affects us,” said Mia Salas ’18. Both the Peddie community and the nation are at agreement that different groups within the government should put aside their differences and do their best to advance our democracy. “The government should stop finding fault with each other and work together for the betterment of our country,” said Rachel Thomas ’21.

Alan Wang ‘19 and Sruthi Kocherlakota ‘19 agreed that the shutdown was a signal of the country’s state. “The government shutdown is indicative of greater problems within our government, and it’s important that people on both sides of the aisle in both the government and in the country can work to compromise,” Wang said. Kocherlakota added, “This is a major indication that our country cannot function without some semblance of order and balance within government.”

The U.S. Government shutdown began at 12:01 a.m. January 20 and ended on the evening of January 22, lasting nearly three days. History Department Chair and AP Government teacher Alison Hogarth explained how the American government reached this state. “One of the reasons why the government shut down is because the Democrats and the Republicans were having a hard time figuring out President Trump and what he was willing to sign, and so that put things in a lot of flux. Both sides were also holding out, hoping to get more support for the initiatives that they cared about, like protection for the DREAMers, and at the same time they were also playing a game of chicken with each other because they’re trying to put the other party into a negative light. Part of it is about funding the government, part of it is just about partisan politics,” said Hogarth.

In September 2017, the Trump administration made a decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program (DACA). Widespread controversy and protests erupted following concern that young immigrants, commonly referred to as “DREAMers,” would be left without protection.

“I think government shutdowns are really unfortunate for the thousands of employees that are out of work with no pay, and I think both parties are partially to blame. However, I understand why the democratic senators felt the need for the shutdown because they wanted to take a stand for DREAMers,” said Avery Best ’21. Yet DACA is just one factor in last month’s shut down.

The dreamers are part of it.  There was also a big debate over the funding of a children’s health insurance program which had expired a few months ago. The interesting piece about both of those programs is that there is widespread support by both Democrats and Republicans for both,” said Hogath.

When Congress and the President fail to pass a body of laws addressing the funding of government operations, the Executive Branch goes through the process of a government shutdown. The major and immediate effects are on government departments, including Defense, Health and Human Services, Education, and Transportation, and the furloughed government employees who work in these areas.