Governments run off the taxes of its citizens. Effective governments find the balance between enough money to fund programs and pay workers while not angering citizens with high costs. Article I Section 8 of the Constitution says, “The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States.” Over time, the money runs out and new bills need to be passed in order to keep the government funded and operational. If funding does not come through, the government will shut down. Non-essential personnel and agencies close down, and new bills have always been passed before any vital parts of government are in danger. In the past few decades, when a chamber of congress is undecided over an issue, they will use an upcoming potential shutdown to their advantage. Thinking their opposition would get bad publicity, lawmakers will pressure them into doing something. Since President Trump was elected into office, the government neared a shutdown four times, and did so once for about three days. Each of these incidents have been related to debates over the DACA immigration program and funding for the border wall, issues that President Trump had on his agenda since his presidential campaign in 2015. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals is a government plan that allows people who illegally came to the country as children to apply for protection from deportation and have a work permit for two years. This program, started under former President Obama, has been highly debated over the past few years and President Trump has been very opposed to it and hopes to shut it down. He has also been very supportive of a border wall, trying to come up with several ways to fund it. Currently, there is a partial shutdown.
Disagreement over funding for a border wall has lead to a government shutdown. President Trump long wanted to improve security along the southern border. When first elected, he thought it would be easy to get congressional approval as the Republicans held the majority in both the Senate and House. President Trump wants $5 billion to fund his proposed plans, but the house has struggled to find a way to fulfill his demand, as well as get unified party support. The President met with Democratic Senate and House leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, trying to find common ground. President Trump said it would be easy to get the money he wanted. Pelosi dared him to try, saying that it would miserably fail. The Democratic lawmakers tried twisting Trump’s arm with the potential shutdown, thinking that he would not want the bad public image. President Trump, however, said he would proudly let the government shut down until he got the funding he wanted. Earlier in the year, the House proposed $1.6 Billion for border security, but the President said he wanted all of the $5 Billion. The House eventually passed a bill on December 20th, which included the money for a border wall. However, the senate decided not to vote before adjourning for Christmas, resulting in a partial shutdown as of midnight on Friday the 21st. As Christmas approached, some government employees were concerned about their jobs.
After the important meeting between President Trump, Senator Schumer, and Representative Pelosi, each party dug in their heels further. While some Republicans do not agree with President Trump’s proposed bill for a wall and voted against it, the majority sided with him, passing the bill. Democrats took over the house during the November midterms, so they already have momentum in their favor, and this will cause some gridlock in Congress. Republicans kept the senate during the midterms, but some of the party’s lawmakers said they did not approve of the bill, and their support helps determine whether a bill would pass. To pass through the senate, a bill needs 60 votes, which seems difficult right now. A disunified Republican party in the Senate gives Democrats more leverage in the negotiation process. Whatever type of bill Congress passes, they will still have to get it through the Oval Office. President Trump, a lifelong successful businessman, is very smart with making deals. He will not be pushed around easily and does not worry about his public image. President Trump has also talked about “draining the swamp” hoping to make the government smaller. A shutdown will not worry Trump. With Congress and the President failing to find an agreement, only a small portion of the government closed. According to NPR, about three quarters already have their budgets approved, but some departments closed, including high-profile ones like: Homeland Security, Commerce, Interior, Agriculture, Housing and Urban Development, Justice, and Transportation. Independent agencies like NASA and the FDA have also closed. Most of these workers will continue their jobs, but not get paid for it until a spending bill gets passed. Other workers are sent home during the shutdown. These agencies and departments may not be as vital as the Departments of State or Defense, but they still play an important part in protecting us and keeping our country running smoothly. Government has become very big, but a shutdown does not effectively solve the solution in reducing its power. Some areas are not practical for the government to be in charge of, but those departments still consist of workers who have their own lives and families to care for. Immediately putting them out of work does not help them or the people who use these government services. Rather, we should transition those departments into the private sector or dissolve them slowly. If Congress and the White House cannot find an agreement, this shutdown may last for quite a while.
Our government was created to help us, to provide for the general welfare and common defense of the American people. Sometimes, however, it does not function well. We often hear about gridlock and no movement. Politicians make promises to get an elected seat then it’s easy for us to blame them for not keeping those promises and not doing anything. We should remember though that God has everything decided. Ecclesiastes chapter 3 talks about God preparing the course of events: “1 Everything that happens in this world happens at the time God chooses. . . 11 He has set the right time for everything. He has given us a desire to know the future, but never gives us the satisfaction of fully understanding what he does.” Whatever decisions our government makes, God decided already and knew it would happen.