By ABIGAIL BUCHHOLZ
The United States is in the midst of its longest partial government shutdown in history, entering day 33 at the time of publication. The shutdown stemmed from congressional Democrats’ and Republicans’ inability to compromise on the nation’s spending bill in regards to border security, specifically the Trump administration’s plan to build a 5.7 billion dollar border wall.
UMW students reflected on the effects of the shutdown.
Freshman Olivia Harrington cited political divisiveness as the primary reason behind the shutdown. “It shows just how polarized politics have become,” she said. “It’s not about elected officials trying to work together for the betterment of the states and the people they represent. It’s more of a popularity contest, and the only way elected officials can get elected is by being polarized. That’s not conducive to having elected officials sit down and work out issues together.”
Stephen Lamm, a senior political science major and president of the College Republicans, said Democrats should vote to fund the border wall. “The majority of Democrats in the past have voted for border security funding,” he said. “But now that the president happens to be Donald Trump they are blocking that funding. They do not want to give Trump another win.”
Political science professor Stephen Farnsworth offered further insight into the origins of the shutdown.
“You take a president who doesn’t want to be seen as weak, you add a more conservative Republican caucus and a more liberal Democratic caucus and you get a shutdown that could last a while,” he said.
As the shutdown passes the thirty day mark, the focus shifts to the economy as a whole. With the U.S. Census and Bureau of Economic Analysis unable to release economic data, many investors and business hesitate to inject money into the unstable market, causing a greater network of issues to develop.
The overall economic growth of the United States has been cut, on average, by 0.13 percentage points weekly since the shutdown began. Many businesses, both large and small, have been unable to acquire loans or organize mergers due to the Small Business Administration and Federal Trade Commission being only partially operational.
UMW students have felt the impact of the shutdown in their personal lives.
Freshman Kristina Rigsby said her father’s vacation plans were disrupted by the shutdown.
“All leave was cancelled, so the cruise he had planned for my mom that he’s saved up for for years had to be cancelled, just so he can report to work every single day without being paid,” Rigsby said.
Freshman Alyssa Janosik said the shutdown affected her family’s ability to move houses.
“We were in the middle of moving to a new house before it happened,” she said. “The government shutdown has put a hold on our new house because of the way the loan works.”
Freshman Jacob Chambers said he believes the effects of the shutdown are distributed unfairly to those who are not responsible for it.
“The way government shutdowns work, regardless of the political party of the president, is that the day-to-day workers are caught in the crossfire and suffer,” he said. “I would like to see a shutdown that only affected the upper level officials that are being pressed to make the decisions instead of their whole departments.”
“People in TSA aren’t being paid and they are still expected to come into the airport, and they still have all those bills. You might not get a paycheck from the government, but you are still expected to pay the electric bill or daycare for kids,” said Farnsworth.
Harrington worried about her food safety as a result of the shutdown.
“The FDA does not have its full capacity of people, so food checks are not happening up to the standards they should be, which is terrifying,” she said.
In the meantime, House Democrats have continued to draft bills offering to fund other sections of the government while the debate surrounding border security continues. President Trump has continued to refuse to open the government unless his demand for border security, including a wall, is met.
“Ultimately, this is likely to be resolved only when something outside of the politicians happens. Donald Trump doesn’t want to look weak, so he’s not going to capitulate,” Farnsworth said. “The Democrats in the majority in the House don’t want the wall, and they were elected in part because of public opposition to the wall, so they’re not going to compromise… it’s going to take something outside of the elected officials, I think, for this to be ended.”