If the White House and Congress do not get their act together, and if the Senate does not have enough votes to pass a spending bill, expect a government shutdown. Many people will be impacted, and as is the case with these things, the most vulnerable will feel pain.
Many government offices, including possibly national parks and monuments would be closed. Visa and passport applications could be delayed.
Thousands upon thousands of federal employees would be told to stay home. More than 850,000would be furloughed, including 562,639 in the Department of Defense, 73,262 in the Treasury Department, 66,556 in the Department of Agriculture, 45,776 in the Department of the Interior, 41,669 in Commerce, and 41,074 in Health and Human Services. Some federal contractor employees are potentially affected.
Essential services such as the post office, military, disaster assistance medical services, the IRS, national security prisons and others would remain open. And federal employees and retirees, and those who receive Social Security, Medicare, food stamps and unemployment would continue to receive their benefits.
1.3 active-duty military personnel–of which 40 percent are members of minority groups and 17 percent are Black–would potentially work without pay.
Nine million children who fall under the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP—whose parents cant afford private health insurance but do not qualify for Medicaid—would have their coverage compromised under a shutdown. This also includes 327,000 pregnant mothers who participate in the CHIP program. CHIP is extremely important to children of color, as CHIP and Medicaid cover a majority of Black and Latino children.
The Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program, which provides food subsidies for low-income mothers and pregnant women, could be impacted. Nearly 20 percent of WIC recipients are African-American.
The residents of the District of Columbia could experience a loss in basic services such as trash pickup, since the city government budget depends on the federal purse strings.
Who is to blame if this happens? The government came to this point because of disagreements between the political parties over immigration and border security. Democrats have opposed a Republican funding proposal that does not include a provision for DACA or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the expiring Obama-era program that has allowed 800,000 mostly young “DREAMers”—3.6 million undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children—to remain in the country.
Trump terminated DACA in September. The larger issue is that hardline Republicans, who insist on having a wall on the Mexico border, oppose immigration from nonwhite countries. Trump’s recent “shithole comments” on African and Haitian immigrants, which also signaled a White House rejection of a bipartisan DACA deal, make abundantly clear. Nearly 9 in 10 Americans want DACA recipients to remain in the U.S.
Republicans will blame Democrats. Mick Mulvaney, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, called the looming government shutdown the “Schumer Shutdown,” named after Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). Trump has done his part on social media to place blame at the doorstep of the Dems.
As of mid-afternoon Friday, Trump and Schumer met at the White House as the clock ticked, but failed to reach a deal. Ultimately, however, Republicans own this shutdown, as they have complete control over the executive and legislative branches of government. And although Trump touts his skill as a deal maker, he lacks basic understanding of policy and the legislative process, and many lawmakers may not even know what Trump wants.
Further, the first year of his presidency has been marked by chaos and historic levels of unpopularity. The public seems to agree. A Washington Post-ABC poll finds that by a 20-point margin, most people blame Trump and the Republicans in Congress for a possible government shutdown, Specifically, 48 percent said the president and the GOP are chiefly responsible, while 28 percent blame Democrats, and 18 percent believe both parties are equally at fault.
Meanwhile, independents blame the Republicans by a 46-to-25-point margin.
The House of Representatives passed a bill to fund the government for another four weeks. The collapse of a spending bill in the Senate means Republicans did not have 60 votes and could not count on Democrats, who seemed ready for a shutdown. At the same time, the GOP could not rely on their own rank-and-file members in the end.
In 2013, Trump blamed then-President Obama when Ted Cruz created the last government shutdown. Last May, Trump called for a government shutdown. Now, he may very well get what he wanted. If it happens, many will suffer, and the chaotic and historically unpopular Trump and the Republicans will take the blame.